The New Face of Manufacturing: A Q&A with Champion Petfoods' Issac Ajani
Q: Why did you choose a job/career in food production?
A: As a past restaurant owner, I was looking to open another business, but during the search, I stopped and applied for a job with Champion. Although the manager was reluctant to hire me at first because he felt that I was overqualified, he called me the next day and said, 'Let's give it a shot.' I liked it right away. That night, the manager called me and asked if I would be a shift leader. I said yes, and haven't looked back.
Q: Tell us about your position with Champion Petfoods--what's your official title and basic responsibilities.
A: I'm the packaging and freeze dry supervisor. I'm passionate about packaging. Before any package goes out the door, it needs to be perfect. I take a lot of pride that any food that leaves our kitchen needs to meet the highest specifications. I'm very proud of our work, and I believe you do it right or you don't do it at all.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job and working for Champion Petfoods?
A: Commitment to quality. I walk around the food line to ensure everything looks perfect before the food gets packaged. I take a lot of pride in paying attention to detail. Also the company has always treated me like gold.
Q: What would you say to someone in high school today to recruit them to a food production career?
A: I'd say start to look at the quality of the company. Where did it start? Where is it going? How did it get there? Then I'd say study how the cooking process works. If you put your passion into it, you too can have your own commercial kitchen someday. Food production is a great place to learn, and the sky is the limit.
Q: What's your best advice for those seeking jobs in food production?
A: You need to study the area and make sure you have a passion for the sector. You need to love what you do. In 14 years, I've taken only three sick days. I could be doing anything, but I come to work because I truly enjoy it.