Monday, November 20, 2017

'Schwan's People You Need to Know'

Werner continues to evolve with the industry after 17 years

"Schwan's People You Need to Know" is an ongoing series of stories that share some of our employees' experiences as we celebrate our 65th anniversary and participate as a founding partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl 52 Host Committee

Nov. 20, 2017 — Kelly Werner has been working with the Schwan’s Home Service marketing team since the turn of the millennium. Still, after all of that time, she says she continues to grow and learn in ways that benefit her personally as well as the company and its customers.

“Knowledge is power. So working to understand as much as I can about the food industry has helped me better develop and market the right foods,” she said. “I spend more time now gaining a deeper understanding of the production of our food from farm to table. This is much more important today than when I started years ago.”

Kelly began her career 17 years ago as a product manager with Home Service’s marketing team. She still works with the team today, but her role has evolved through the years. In addition to marketing and managing product categories, she has also gained experience in purchasing, merchandising and promotions. She also spent a few years within field marketing where she helped train field sales teams on product knowledge.

“Throughout all my roles, there has always been a focus on products which is definitely my passion,” she said.

Kelly recently took some time to tell us about her experiences at Schwan’s, her long-time desire to be a news reporter and some of her favorite football foods.

Q: Tell us why your job is one of the most interesting or important jobs in the company.

A: Schwan’s Home Service sells high-quality foods to consumers and the product manager position is responsible for leading the project teams that bring those foods to life.

Q: What are you passionate about in your job?

A: I am passionate about finding food products that fit customer needs in a new way. I try to think like the customer in not just how a product tastes, but in how it will be used and how it will be prepared. Some of the best products have come from finding a new way to package a popular food item or a more convenient way to prepare it. Our Mini Beef Pot Roast was an idea that came from taking a very familiar comfort food that has been around for years and providing a single-serve portion that offered the same great taste and tenderness that could be ready in minutes.

Q: What’s your typical day like?

A: As the manager of many projects, I spend a fair amount of each day in meetings and prioritizing timelines to help direct other team members. I currently manage more than 90 products so there is always a lot of work to do with product changes in addition to the work to launch a new item. As part of category management, I am constantly monitoring the performance of our foods by reviewing sales, customer feedback and product costs.

Q: What’s your favorite memory in all the years you’ve worked here?

A: Some of my best memories were from the years that I spent working directly with the Home Service sales teams through product training. I have a deep appreciation for the route sales representative job in Home Service and the daily challenges but also the abundant rewards it can offer. I have been able to ride along with our sales representatives across the United States, and it always provided me some of the best information and ideas for improvements.

Q: What are you most proud of throughout your career at Schwan’s?

A: I would have to say that I am most proud of new products that have launched and are still strong sellers today. It has been so rewarding to help lead our project teams from a product idea to a product that customers love through the years.

Q: Schwan’s is a founding partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl 52 Host Committee this year, are you a football fan?

A: Yes, I have been a football fan for many years

Q: What team are you hoping to see in the Big Game?

A: Of course — the Minnesota Vikings!

Q: What is your favorite Schwan’s® product to serve at a Big Game viewing party?

A: Schwan’s® Oven-Roasted Chicken Wings #414. They bake up crispy and come with their own BBQ Dry Rub seasoning. It’s super easy and better than take-out.

Q: What’s your favorite Schwan’s® product?

A: I have so many, but I would have to say the Oven-Baked Chicken Breast #404. They are whole chicken breasts that are lightly breaded so they bake up great and are perfect on a salad, chicken parmesan or sandwiches. Above all, they taste great and taste is always most important. I am likely a little biased because I launched this product many years ago.

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

A: Honey BBQ Boneless Wings are a family favorite at our house. They are super easy to make with Schwan’s Chicken Bites. Just bake the chicken bites, and while still hot, toss in your favorite BBQ sauce. What makes these so great is the fact that the chicken bites are made from whole chicken tenderloins and not chunked and formed like other boneless wings.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know about you.

A: I always wanted to be a news reporter. I remember wanting to switch my major in college but didn’t make the change. In my current role, I do get a chance to help with the RSR Fast Lane videos (internal communications) so that is likely as close as I will get.

Q: How would you describe the culture of our company?

A: I really think everyone shares a common goal to make and market the best foods for our customers, and it shows in the passion of our employees and the ways we challenge each other every day. I really like the “team work” environment. It is always fun to be on a team working toward a common goal. The teamwork is vital and the focus on growth provides a fun working culture.

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