Get to Know Cassie Schneider, Quality Manager
Cassie Schneider, Quality Manager at Kansas Protein Foods in Hutchinson, Kansas, worked for Kansas Ethanol, LLC for about 5 years until 2017 before returning to its ‘sister company’ in the food products industry over 2 years ago. She has a Masters’ degree in Agribusiness which has given her the confidence, experience and skills required to help push Kansas Protein Foods’ business forward.
“A big reason why I chose to come to Kansas Protein Foods (KPF) is that I believed and trusted in what they were doing here. While I didn’t have specific experience in Textured Vegetable Proteins, I liked the apparent direction of the company. There is a KPF Way. Do all the right things, be as invested and efficient as possible – since we’re such a small company – and make things better as long as we’re not cutting corners in the process to get things accomplished. And I’ll add to that… if you’re not learning something every day, then you’re not looking around here hard enough!”
Cassie became Quality Manager when Cameron Vincent shifted responsibilities to R&D. “I have a lot of lab background and feel like I’m well diverse in ‘connecting the dots’ with my production background here as well.” She manages a team of 3 people in the lab where quality, product testing and micro-testing in-house allows KPF to approve and release products sooner. A quick turnaround time on lot number product to approval to shipping allows avoiding the outside time and cost of a third-party lab.
“New product ideas are driven by our customers and by market demand… we get more experimental based on our customer requests. Our Imagic® products like bacon, taco and chicken are very popular, and Ultra-Soy® products provide sustained sales for us. But more plant-based protein snacks are blowing up in the food retail marketplace as well.”
Cassie also has 4 Quality Assurance monitors on 4 shifts reporting to her, and one who is in charge of the sanitation process. Her QA monitors test for moisture, color, size, and rehydration right off the production lines. The plant has been running 24/7 with 4 shifts since February 2022, due to current volume of business at Kansas Protein Foods. Cassie oversees the Food Safety Team in a plant that is not only SQF Certified but also has 2 PCQI-certified people on staff including herself. This team handles customer documentation requests, plant procedures, and all documentation flows through quality as well.
“When a customer calls here, I can confidently say that our CSR team is #1. You will get someone live on the phone and/or get a timely call back from one of us. Whether it be for general product questions, documentation requests for their audits, or sample requests for them to try, responding to our customers to meet their needs is Priority One. Our goal is to turn any sample request into a customer of that product.”
Cassie is extremely optimistic about the future of Kansas Protein Foods. “We can see that the food industry is always changing – in sustainability, logistics, health, nutrition, etc. – this is how the food protein market moves forward. Soy protein is high in protein, low in fat, and very cost-effective as either a meat extender or complete meat replacement. Therefore, it is very desirable in today’s world. Overall, there’s a lot of pride here at KPF. I’m very excited about expanding our opportunities globally while at the same time increasing awareness of our presence locally, here in Hutchinson and surrounding areas, as well.”
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