Operations Management Trainee Program-Week 11

Stuart Ness – Cedar Rapids, IA

            Entering the parking lot of the Cedar Rapids facility, you can feel the dream that has kept this soup business alive and fueled its growth. Founded in the 1980’s as Ashby’s Homestyle Soups, the business saw steadily rising demand due to the high quality of its products. This rising demand led to an increase in production and a name-change to Quality Chef, because the soup really is just that good. Heinz recognized what a prize lay in Cedar Rapids, and bought the factory and consolidated its soup business here, a business so large that a whole warehouse was built across the parking lot!

As an up and coming Materials Supervisor, I have been exposed to the full complexity of keeping such growth sustained. In addition to the Americold warehouse next to us on the property, we also employ the services of another warehouse across town. When looking at a list of our products, it is easy to see why we employ two separate warehouses; Cedar produces over 400 varieties of soup, calling for over 900 unique ingredients.  My OMTP project is to investigate our spending on these warehouses to look for savings opportunities.

In addition to familiarizing myself with warehousing procedures, I have also been shadowing personnel from all aspects of plant operations. Materials directly impacts every department in the factory, as all raw materials and finished goods ultimately flow through the dock. Becoming acquainted with the entire plant has been very beneficial, helping me to understand how we might more efficiently link warehousing to everyone else. My varied experience has also given me insight into the Golden Rules of factory quality.

With a friendly team, delicious products, and a quality manufacturing environment, the Cedar Rapids facility has made me feel right at home.

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