Amy’s Kitchen names longtime employee as its new president
Amy’s Kitchen has named Paul Schiefer as company president after he served as interim manager for the firm’s drive-thru division.
Schiefer, a 16-year employee, worked his way from project manager to communications chief to the top spot under the Petaluma-based natural food company’s Andy Berliner, who founded the company 35 years ago and remains the CEO.
Schiefer worked in sales and hospitality technology before joining Amy’s in 2007.
He led the restaurant division and worked in business development and the sustainability department before holding his last title of vice president of Impact and Communications. Berliner tapped him to fill the interim president post last December before making him the president this week.
At age 42, Schiefer admitted that serving in such a high level of management at this age is “unique,” but tenure within the organization can go a long way.
“I started out in nearly every area of this business, so I feel closely connected,” he said.
His promotion was announced April 24 and he’s been visiting various Amy’s locations to get to know everything from how the administrative offices work to the assembly lines.
“My first priority is learning the functions of the departments,” he said. “I want to take the things we do well and expand on them.”
Part of that learning experience revolves around the underlying question for Schiefer’s longtime organization: “How much room is there for Amy’s to grow?”
The food company has made a name for itself offering 135 varieties of organic frozen and packaged foods sold in 43,000 stores in a dozen countries.
Improvement is the name of the game, with perhaps a little added emphasis in efficiencies and environmentally-friendly practices as Schiefer’s longtime passion.
“This is why I’ve chosen to work for Amy’s as long as I have,” he said. “A business doesn’t have to be just about a paycheck. Sometimes I think we operate like a nonprofit. We have a simple mission. We just feed people really good food.”
Schiefer believes that food security and accessibility has become the mainstay for how he’d like to see Amy’s Kitchen continue to operate.
“Every person deserves good food,” he said.
He also strives to make Amy’s the best company for its 2,800 employees to work for. This means listening to employees and remaining proactive in enhancing workplace conditions.
Schiefer referenced workplace complaints reported last year from one former worker and four current staffers who claimed the company failed to adequately accommodate their needs, in particular, on and off the assembly lines. It led to complaints filed by union officials with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health regarding conditions at the Santa Rosa plant.
Consequently, the company identified areas in need of addressing such as installing an eye washing station closer to workstations in case of chemical exposure. The pandemic also prompted additional safety measures on the production lines, Schiefer said.
It’s common to find Schiefer cooking in his own kitchen with his children, making him a good fit for his role. “I’ve liked to cook from a very early age,” he said.
Aside from the 3-month-old baby, he joked that his 2- and 4-year-olds prefer Amy’s Kitchen for their go-to meals and may promote the business someday.
“My kids love the Amy’s drive-thru. I ask them what they want, and they say Amy’s,” Schiefer said, listing French fries as a favorite dish. “My 4-year-old is our No. 1 salesperson.” The father pictured her selling snacks to her friends when she grows up.
Berliner pointed to Schiefer’s “deep understanding of what makes the company unique.” Though unreachable for comment this week, the company founder issued the following statement: “Our mission has always been about taking care of our employees, our customers and the planet. We are confident that Paul is the right person to lead our company forward and to continue our legacy.”
Schiefer’s salary, along with the privately-held company’s financials, is undisclosed.
In addition to Schiefer’s promotion, Amy’s Kitchen also selected Goretti Hamlin, a 20-year veteran, to be chief people officer.
The company has also established a new board of directors: Andrew Woeber, former partner at Centerview Partners; Beth Springer, former executive vice president of the Clorox Co.; and Michael Funk, organic food industry pioneer and founder of United Natural Foods, Inc.
Susan Wood covers law, cannabis, production, tech, energy, transportation, agriculture as well as banking and finance. She can be reached at 530-545-8662 or email@example.com