3 tips from a Plant Manager at Saputo Dairy Products Canada

Name: Dave Shumka

Title: Plant Manager

Company: Saputo Dairy Products Canada

Years worked in current role: 5

Years of experience in food industry: 36

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

I am the plant manager of a Fluid Dairy bottling plant in British Columbia. I oversee the Production, Quality Assurance, and maintenance departments. We have a multi union environment with an excellent dedicated staff. I see my mandate as helping people to optimize production by fostering a safe, high-performing, and enjoyable work environment.

We produce a wide variety of high quality milk, flavoured milk, creams, and ice cream mixes for retail and food service customers.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Be a good listener, react to challenges in a consistent and fair manner, no favouritism.
  2. Have a good sense of priorities, knowledge of the difference between urgent and important whether it is a personnel issue or an operational issue, you can’t neglect the important but you must take care of the urgent.
  3. Engage the workforce so that they feel part of the process; that their opinions & ideas matter, don’t take credit – give credit.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I sort of fell into it at a young age and quickly realized that in uncertain economic times the fresh food industry will always provide employment, you can’t off-shore these jobs.

What would be your best 3 advice tips for new grads starting out in their career:

  1. Don’t be afraid to work non-traditional shifts, that’s how you get the best experience and chances for advanced roles.
  2. Realize that advancement takes time, don’t be in too much of a rush, enjoy the role you’re in and strive to gain full competency, advancement will come and the lessons you learn at lower levels will serve you well as you advance.
  3. Don’t ever let go of your integrity, you own that…not the company.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

There is great satisfaction in knowing that my work is so valuable to society, I’ve always been very proud to tell the people that I meet that I’m a fisherman, or bakery worker or dairy worker etc. We’re feeding the minds and bodies of the nation. 

Favourite quote?

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”   Calvin Coolidge 30th president of the USA