Creamery plant manager and chief operating officer, Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Inc., 2064 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Bldg. 1, #130, Sebastopol 95472, 707-823-8250, redwoodhill.com, greenvalleylactosefree.com
Residence: Santa Rosa
Professional Background: Started working at Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery in 1997 after coming to the U.S. as a work-exchange student from Bulgaria. After emigrating, I have worked in most areas of the business from milking goats, to department management of cheese, warehouse, and cultured products. In 2004 I was promoted to Creamery Plant Manager and joined the Senior Management Team.
Education: BA in agricultural economics
Staff: 45 in Cultured Products, Cheese, Quality Assurance, Warehouse and Shipping, and Repair and Maintenance departments
Describe the facilities you oversee: The creamery has about 55,000 square feet. We produce Redwood Hill Farm goat milk yogurt, cheese, and kefir; and Green Valley Organics lactose-free real cow dairy yogurt, kefir and sour cream. The company recently took on co-packing for the Cultured Coconut yogurt brand.
The facility has a milk-receiving bay with truck-washing equipment; raw milk storage; separate production areas for yogurt, kefir and cheese; walk-in refrigerators for finished product; storage areas; equipment areas; a mechanical shop; and offices.
Powering the creamery is a 586-kilowatt solar electric system with 2,548 panels on two acres of roof and two electric car chargers.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in 1969 in Bulgaria, which is famous for feta cheese and yogurt. In fact, one of the required cultures for yogurt in the U.S. is Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. It was noticed that extremely long-lived people in Bulgaria were eating yogurt.
As a young child, my dream was to become a professional soccer player. I am happy that I achieved my goal, however, an injury prevented me from playing soccer for over two years. I realized that I needed to look at a different career.
I received my BA in Agricultural Economics and came to Redwood Hill Farm as an exchange student to see how a real business is run, improve my English and see the differences of running a business in the U.S., compared with doing so in Europe. I have enjoyed being here so much. I never went home and was able to obtain permanent residence status.
I life in Santa Rosa with my partner, Zlatina, and our 8-year-old daughter, Alexandra. I now visit Europe each year and always take time to check out what is new in the European market.
What do you see as the role of facilities manager within your organization?: Of course, first and foremost is the production of excellent specialty dairy products, which means overseeing the production teams at the creamery. In addition, I work with our milk producers to insure we have the milk we need.
I also work on development of new products and with suppliers to be sure we get the best ingredients and supplies at the best price.
I also maintain paperwork and records for third-party audits for certifications such as kosher, organic and humane animal treatment, in addition to coordinating our HACCP program, good manufacturing procedures, and standard operating procedures.
Keeping employees trained, motivated, and happy is also an important part of my job. The atmosphere here at Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery is different, in that we have an open-door policy, celebrate each employee’s birthday at employee lunches, offer training where needed and encourage our employees to come forth with good ideas.