Senior Operations Leader - Aurora, Missouri

AFB International, Headquartered in St. Charles, Missouri, has offices and production facilities around the globe, including the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the Netherlands.  We develop and produce a full range of liquid and dry palatability enhancers, using high-quality ingriedents proven to optimize companion and animal response and consumption. AFB is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ensign-Bickford Industries, Inc., a privately held, family owned, professionally managed technical business that traces its roots back 175 years. This position is locacted in the Southwestern region of Missouri.

Summary- Leadership and oversight of the manufacturing operations in North America is the key responsibility of this position. The senior leader chosen for this role is responsible for providing direction and management of the processes and personnel responsible for the manufacturing of company products in support of customers in North America and other regions around the globe. Based on-site at a multi-shift pet food palatant production facility in Aurora, Missouri, the leader in this role will be tasked with working effectively in a heavily matrixed organization, with responsibility to the company’s Global Supply Chain function as well as, the North American regional business P&L. This role is integral in driving toward operational excellence and superior results, with an eye on continuous improvement in the key focus areas of safety, quality, delivery, cost / productivity and growth.


Responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • Drive process improvement throughout the operation, ensuring that the team understands and embodies the process improvement mindset, recognizing that process improvement is a collaborative effort.
  • Champions the company’s behavior based safety program, providing leadership, resources and support that ensures a safe environment is maintained and safety issues are identified and resolved as quickly as possible.
  • Owns the process to ensure that making a quality product the first time, every time is part of the DNA of the processes and personnel at the facility, as well as providing leadership and support in the areas of food safety and sanitation in a SQF-certified environment.
  • Coaches, develops, and leads a team of front-line supervisors, ensuring that employee morale and wellbeing is fostered and improved as needed. Delegates appropriately and leads by personal example in terms of commitment to company values, behavioral expectations and overall short and long term goals and objectives.
  • Develops, recommends and oversees implementation of process improvement measures that result in efficiency gains, improved quality or safety, cost control, improved equipment performance or more effective production methods. Champions change in working conditions, processing methods or use of equipment that lead to increased efficiencies.
  • Analyzes and resolves work problems or issues, either with process or personnel or coaches supervisory staff on how to resolve as needed.
  • Ensures all supervisory personnel are maintaining adequate levels of accountability for plant personnel with respect to meeting all quality and food safety compliance obligations.
  • Personally participate in kaizen events, as well as sponsor events that lead to facility process improvement.
  • Directly, or indirectly through subordinate supervisors, responsible for a workforce of 70 or more
  • Ensures the plant is always maintained to the highest standards of cleanliness. Sanitation and good manufacturing practices [GMP’s] are critical to the success of the plant

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:

  • Demonstrated leadership capabilities, including people development, coaching, goal setting, and evaluation.
  • Ability to effectively manage changing priorities and ambiguity while maintaining and demonstrating the highest standards of business acumen.
  • Ability to lead others by personal example and commitment to company values.
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills, as well as ability to present and engage audiences.
  • Ability to communicate effectively to teams within a manufacturing environment as well as with members of leadership across the business.
  • Able to employ situational leadership skills as needed to best deliver critical information for the greatest impact and effectiveness.
  • Exceptional team building skills
  • Ability to effectively collaborate with others to reach mutually agreeable outcomes.
  • Ability to effectively build relationships and cross functional business units and regions.
  • Experience in a collaborative team environment, delegating workload and responsibilities.
  • Ability to read and analyze operational financial data; understands business process.
  • Demonstrate results orientation, initiative, and resourcefulness.
  • Strong process improvement skills, with ability to lead and champion kaizen events for improvement.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of food safety and sanitation practices applicable to food processing environments with ability to follow designated safety and food safety procedures as well as hold subordinate supervisors and personnel accountable for doing the same.
  • Ability to serve as a liaison between the local team and regional and functional teams across the business.
  • Ability to travel, up to 20%, domestic and/or international as required.
  • Full job description will be shared with candidates during the selection process

 Education and/or Experience                  

Bachelor’s degree and ten (10) or more years’ experience in manufacturing industry, with at least two (2) years progressive experience in management within a manufacturing facility, including oversight of 24/7 operations. Degree in an engineering discipline preferred, within the food, flavor or feed industries. Experience in a SQF-certified (or similar) manufacturing environment strongly desired. Prior experience in kaizen, operational excellence, Lean/Six Sigma or business operating systems with heavy process orientation required.

This role has direct accountability for achieving production volume, quality and delivery targets while supporting the advancement of the behavior-based safety program, as well as ensuring labor and related manufacturing costs are appropriately managed and improved. This role serves as a visible leader to the local workforce and overall business, championing process improvements and setting an environment and culture of accountability and ownership from the shop floor to the leadership team. A strong collaborator, the successful candidate selected to fill this leadership role is charged with maintaining and improving teamwork and morale in a high volume, fast-paced production environment, ensuring that results are delivered.

#Location: United States

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