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Thursday, October 18, 2018

'Schwan's People You Need To Know'


“Schwan’s People You Need to Know” is an ongoing series of stories about some of the people who help make Schwan's Company and its subsidiaries a great place to work.. 

Estum talks about role at Schwan’s and endless investigation of what consumers want


Christy Estum is a sensory analyst at our Product Innovation & Development
facility in Marshall, Minnesota.
Oct. 18, 2018 — Why do consumers prefer certain products over others?

That is the question Sensory Analyst Christy Estum must ask herself each day as she works with cross-functional product-development and marketing teams across Schwan’s Company. For her, the question keeps each day new and has allowed several growth opportunities throughout her career.

“Ever since joining the company fresh out of college, I continue to get pushed out of my comfort zone,” Christy said. “Meeting new people, traveling to our plants and working on projects across all business units has helped me learn and grow in each of my roles.”

Christy joined Schwan’s four days after her college graduation as an intern in our sensory and product guidance department. Christy’s three-month summer internship, turned into an 18-month internship and eventually a full-time position as a technician. And, a year later, she landed her current role as an analyst for our consumer insights and analytics department

She recently talked with us about what a typical day looks like as a sensory analyst and what she thrives on at our company.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people at Schwan’s do not know.

A: I am a big animal lover. In November 2017, my husband and I started fostering dogs for a local rescue. Our specialty is puppies. We’ve welcomed three different litters (all under 8 weeks old) into our home. There’s been 13 dogs total, and we managed to restrict ourselves to only keeping one of them.

Q: What’s your typical day like?

A: A typical day will involve a lot of phone calls. Since the consumer insights and analytics team is a company-wide resource for business units, I get to work with people in all of our company locations.

Most of my projects have weekly or bi-weekly team calls that include all cross-functional partners. I am also in daily communication with our testing vendors. We currently use four different vendors to support our testing needs, and I’m the main point of contact for them within Schwan’s.

And, hopefully, my day will also include a product cutting. Our Product Innovation & Development facility, where I office from, looks at a lot of products, and I’m happy to be a part of it. Just a few of the product cuttings could be for shelf life, plant/supplier moves, equipment changes, clean label, innovation, competitive review and more.

Q: What are you most proud of in your career with Schwan’s?

A: I am proud of the teams that I’ve been a part of and the projects that we’ve successfully completed. Some of the projects with cross-functional partners I have had the honor of participating in include establishing a new bakery at our facility in Salina, Kansas, removal of high fructose corn syrup from our Edwards® crème pies as part of a company-wid
e clean-label initiative, launching a new crème-pie line at our facility in Stilwell, Oklahoma, and a category assessment of 15 16-inch pizzas that included descriptive analysis profiles and multiple testing locations.

Q: What are you passionate about in your job?

A: Food and consumers! I love evaluating and testing our products. I like being able to go through all the different sensory attributes of a product and then understanding how consumers respond. It’s wonderful to understand how people think and why a product is liked or not. We are able to provide answers to very important questions for our business partners.

Q: How would you describe the culture at Schwan’s?

A: Despite being a large company, we’re able to maintain a hometown, small-company culture. People care about each other and the communities we are based in and serve.

Q: What do our company vision and values mean to you? How do you demonstrate them in your day-to-day work?

A: I view our values as a roadmap to achieving our vision. I like that we’re grounded in our founder Marvin Schwan’s words.

Q: We often talk about working as “one Schwan’s team.” What does that mean to you?

A: That we are all working toward a shared goal. We may not always agree on the best way to reach that goal, but at the end of the day, we know we are all on the same team.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in our company’s future?

A: Innovation — whatever that may look like as long as it is the next big products that will delight our consumers.

Q: What would you tell someone considering a career with Schwan’s Company?

A: I value the Schwan family’s origin story and how that shapes our strategies and priorities. It’s a rewarding company to work for.

Q: What is your favorite food product from Schwan’s?

A: It is impossible to pick just one, so I’ll give you my favorites for each meal of the day. My favorites include the Schwan’s® Egg White, Cheese and Turkey Bacon Multi-Grain Biscuit Sandwiches, Schwan’s® Fully cooked Oven-Baked Breaded Chicken Breast Fillets on my salads for lunch, the Schwan’s® Chicken Florentine Skillet Meal for dinner and to top it all off our limited-edition Schwan’s® Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

'Schwan's People You Need to Know'

“Schwan’s People You Need to Know” is an ongoing series of stories about some of the people who help make Schwan's Company and its subsidiaries a great place to work.. 

Culinary Director Michael Gunn

Gunn takes a break from the kitchen to share his passion for food


Oct. 10, 2018 — For Culinary Director Michael Gunn, Schwan’s Company has been the perfect place to develop as a chef and satisfy his passion for developing delicious foods.

“When I interviewed with Schwan’s 16 years ago, I immediately recognized how much opportunity there would be to learn and grow if I got the job,” Michael said. “It turned out to be absolutely true.”

Michael joined Schwan’s Company’s Product Innovation & Development (PI&D) team in 2002 as a corporate chef. Since joining the company, his breadth of culinary knowledge has propelled him to become the company’s culinary director and to serve as a member of the Schwan’s Chef Collective.

He is grateful for the many opportunities Schwan’s has presented to him, including working with the amazing people in PI&D, marketing, sales, supply chain and food safety and quality.

“I’ve grown as a chef, learned about food science and manufacturing and grown to appreciate the challenges faced by our consumers,” Michael said.

Michael recently talked with us about the business, the growth he has experienced as a member of the Schwan’s team and his passion for food.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people at Schwan’s do not know.

A: I worked in Yellowstone National Park as a chef for two years, and it’s where I met my wife. We worked at Old Faithful Inn, Roosevelt Lodge and Canyon Lodge.

Q: What’s your typical day like?

A: My team and I support all of Schwan’s business units in a variety of ways, so every day is different. These activities on any given day include researching culinary trends, creating gold-standard recipes, supporting a Schwan’s Chef Collective activity or traveling with our sales and marketing teams to meet with customers.

Q: What are you most proud of in your career with Schwan’s?

A: I am most proud of the impact the culinary team has had on the company through the years. Creating a library of Schwan’s Home Service recipes, helping to build customer relationships, being a part of the evolution of the Schwan’s Chef Collective and supporting product design are just a few of our teams recent achievements.

Q: What are you passionate about in your job?

A: I’m passionate about learning and applying what I’ve learned in a way that moves the company toward its goals. This is what motivates and makes me look forward to coming to work every day.

I see that same motivation and drive in the amazing people I work with each day as well. Working with teammates who mirror the same passion, creates a really positive environment.

Q: How would you describe the culture at Schwan’s?

A: Our culture is one of dedication, hard work, determination and mutual support built upon a foundation of our values. Having such a great culture makes it a pleasure to come to work every day.

I appreciate the people that make our culture what it is. You can’t have a great culture without great people. The support, encouragement and feedback I get allow me to become better at what I do and grow personally as well as professionally.

Q: What do our company vision and values mean to you? How do you demonstrate them in your day-to-day work?

A: Our company values of “Growth, Hard Work, Helping One Another, Enthusiasm and Integrity” really do match my own and that has a lot to do with why I joined the company and stayed for 16 years. Our vision is an organizational compass and natural extension of our values. It’s what keeps us on track to do what’s right for our employees and customers.

I take our vision and values to heart and demonstrate by example that I believe in them.

Q: We often talk about working as “one Schwan’s team.” What does that mean to you?

A: To me, it’s about trust. Knowing the people I work with have the same end goal in mind and are going to work toward that goal in a way that is right for our company, customers and employees.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in our company’s future?

A: I’m excited about the opportunities and growth we will achieve as a result of the investments we’re making in ourselves, existing facilities and through the acquisitions of the MaMa Rosa’s® and Fight’n Tomato Pizza Co.® pizza brands as well as Better Baked Foods and Drayton Foods.

Q: Do you have any recipes you are master of that you would like to share?

A: Yes, it is a bread salad recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced.
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, cracked.
  • ½ cup olive oil, extra virgin.
  • ½ teaspoon salt.
  • 1 ½ cup tomatoes, fresh ½-inch diced.
  • 1 ½ cup Schwan’s® French Baguette, Multi-Grain Loaf or Ciabatta Rolls, ½-inch cubes, stale.
  • 4 basil leaves, freshly chopped.

Directions:

  • Combine garlic, pepper, olive oil and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well.
  • Add diced tomatoes, bread and basil to olive oil mixture and toss until bread and tomatoes are evenly coated with oil.
  • Let the salad stand for three to four minutes. Bread should be soft, but the crust still crunchy.

Notes:

Michael said this is his favorite late-summer dish. He only makes it when he has fresh tomatoes from the garden — the juicier the better. Michael added it is also best to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil and a nice crusty loaf of bread. For better bread, he will cut the bread in chunks and let it get stale, or dry them for a few minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F.

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