Plant Manager for Start-up Cheese Plant

Kincannon & Reed has been retained to recruit a Plant Manager to lead the startup of a new state-of-art cheese and whey manufacturing plant in Texas. The successful candidate will have the accomplished operational background to provide best-in-class leadership and management. Construction will start soon so there will be an opportunity to have input on the plant design and construction management. Key responsibilities will be commissioning, startup, staffing, and organization design to result in excellent efficiency, production, employee relations, and product quality plus safety, communication, and food security.

The Company

This is a new, family-owned company being started to initially process 3-4 million pounds of milk per day with plans to grow to 6 million pounds per day. They have been working with the top engineering, equipment, construction, and marketing firms in the industry to strategically position it for long term success.

They chose an area in Texas to build their new cheese plant because of the friendly community and an excellent milk supply from planned local dairy production growth. The area’s available land acreage for growing feed and expanding dairy operations plus plentiful water for the dairy complex and for watering crops make it a logical choice for close-coupled milk and cheese production.

Position Overview

The Company seeks an operations leader with deep cheese manufacturing, dairy ingredient processing, and total supply chain experience who is also skilled at attracting and developing world-class production teams. Reporting to the owner, the Plant Manager will oversee all operations and focus on optimum efficiency. Must be willing to “roll-up-your-sleeves” as well as lead at a strategic level.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Contribute to input on the plant design and construction management
  • Lead all aspects of the plant startup. Previous greenfield experience is a plus
  • Lead, administer, plan and direct first-class plant operations while continually striving for improvements to increase efficiency and reduce costs
  • Champion a strong safety culture
  • Look for ways to improve and promote quality including product and work
  • Works within approved budget while developing and implementing cost-saving measures, contributing to overall profits and revenue of the organization
  • Manages direct reports who supervise employees in production, quality, maintenance, and office while being responsible for their overall direction, coordination, and evaluation
  • Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization’s policies and applicable laws. Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems
  • Develops strategies to achieve organizational goals and KPIs plus adapts strategy to changing conditions
  • Identifies and resolves problems in a timely manner by gathering and analyzing information skillfully
  • Works well in group problem solving situations and develops alternative solutions
  • Works together to create a positive team environment focusing on employee morale while working together to drive results and exceed plant goals
  • Manages projects by creating workable plans; communicates changes effectively, builds commitment and overcomes resistance
  • Understands business implications of decisions while displaying an orientation to profitability. Demonstrates knowledge of market and competition and aligns work with strategic goals
  • Exhibits sound and accurate judgment by support and explanation of reasoning for decisions. Includes appropriate people in decision-making process in a timely fashion
  • Develops realistic action plans by prioritizing and planning work activities. Plans for additional resources as needed
  • Includes staff in planning, decision-making, facilitating and process improvement. Makes oneself available to staff, provides regular performance feedback, develops subordinates’ skills, and encourages growth
  • Investigates customer complaints, initiates actions, finalizing to results, which in turn meets customer’s expectations and builds customer confidence
  • Solicits and applies customer feedback (internal and external). Improves processes, products, and services
  • Reacts well under pressure. Treats others with respect and consideration regardless of their status or position. Accepts responsibility for own actions and follows through on commitments
  • Observes safety and security procedures. Reports and corrects potentially unsafe conditions and uses equipment and materials properly
  • Involved in local dairy business associations and builds community relationships

Other important parameters for this position include:

  • The position is supported by a team of eight direct reports and a total staff of 100+
  • The position is located in Texas
  • Travel is estimated to be minimal
Candidate Profile

The Company seeks an innovative, analytical problem solver who is also an ethical team player who develops people. She/He must know how to seek out and leverage resources, be a self-motivated hard worker plus be a continuous learner committed to quality. 

Experience and Education

  • Five years of supervisory experience required
  • It is desirable for the incumbent to have 10 years of experience in a dairy production environment
  • Bachelor of Science in food science, manufacturing or related field is preferable


  • Exceptional attention to detail and strong organizational and problem-solving skills
  • Demonstrated understanding of the products manufactured and the processes involved
  • Basic understanding of equipment operations and troubleshooting ability
  • Must be able to demonstrate an ability and willingness to communicate effectively to maintain high levels of safety, quality, and efficiency
  • Ability to ensure the creation and implementation of standard operating procedures and company guidelines to maintain regulatory compliance
  • Ability to understand daily production needs
  • Participation in a team environment safely
  • Able to perform at a high level in a fast-paced environment
  • Detail-oriented, be quality minded

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