Category: General

Partnering to Drive Food Safety

Nelson-Jameson is a proud member of the Innovation Center for US Dairy. The Center and its members have a common goal “to advance a shared social responsibility platform and demonstrate U.S. dairy’s collective commitment to provide the world responsibly produced dairy foods that nourish people, strengthen communities and foster a sustainable future.”

Nelson-Jameson and the Center have a combined passion for furthering food safety in our nation. Recently, the Center published a terrific food safety resource for the dairy industry that includes numerous Spanish language materials. Resources to take advantage of include: interactive training courses for artisan ice cream and cheesemakers, food safety plan writing assistance, training support, pathogen guidance documents, and much more. 

The document’s publication is a reflection of the partnerships between organizations like Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the American Cheese Society, the North American Ice Cream Association, International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), and numerous other stakeholders to bring educational materials and information to the forefront. Food safety isn’t a competitive advantage…it’s our collective responsibility. Check out the document here and please feel free to share!

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Women In Leadership at Nelson-Jameson

Throughout the decades, women have been making strides and defining themselves as leaders in the workplace. We are proud that a large portion of our executive and leadership positions at Nelson-Jameson are occupied by women. We asked several of these women what makes Nelson-Jameson such an attractive company to work for as a woman, and what has made professional growth possible throughout the tenure of our female staff members. As you will see in their responses, a considerable number of our employees have been with Nelson-Jameson for an extended length of time—through life changes, educational opportunities, career advancement, the birth of children, marriage, and unforeseen events that always manage to come up in life. Throughout it all, they have maintained their positions at NJ and thrived.

Sharon Copet
Director of Customer Experience
Years With NJ: 31

Background: Associate’s Degree in Retail Sales from Northern MI University, 8 years retail management experience, 31 years with Nelson-Jameson in multiple departments/positions including sales, marketing and customer service.

Q: What is a professional accomplishment you consider a milestone in your career?
A: For me, a defining moment in my career was when I was asked to take on a marketing role. At that time, it was just a graphic designer and editor, and the editor had decided to leave NJ.  Shortly after that, the graphic designer left, leaving me to figure out how to take NJ forward with print ads, brochures, sell sheets AND the largest task of all – the Nelson-Jameson Buyers Guide (catalog). I knew sales, but not marketing. I began to work with freelance designers and print shop experts to learn what I could while getting projects completed. After a year, I was allowed to put together a proposal and build the marketing team. Soon after that, we explored, researched and invested in our first PIM system. I helped develop the first NJ website, and thinking outside the box, used that PIM system to code certain things like keywords, tagging sale items, etc.

Q: What brought you to Nelson-Jameson?
A: With retail chain stores, they want their managers to grow and move into larger store locations, but I was interested in staying in Marshfield. A friend had been with NJ for a couple of years and spoke highly of the company, her boss, and what a big change to her lifestyle it was to work “normal” non-retail hours. When I saw an opening in Inside Sales, I applied. I remember sitting in my cubicle my first week, thinking “what did I do” since I did not know distribution or these types of products – but 31 years later – I’m still here, proud and blessed to be a part of NJ.

Q: What motivated you to step into a leadership role?
A: I think some leadership skills come naturally – being responsible, able to work well with people, being a positive person. I also had a few managers in retail that were very encouraging about going the extra mile and doing what needed to be done.

Q: Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
A: I’ve had really great mentors here at Nelson-Jameson. Probably the most influential have been Jerry Lippert and Murray Smith. Both believed in me and my abilities, even when I was not sure I did!  They gave me the latitude to share my thoughts and visions, and then elevated me to leadership positions where I could create programs, departments, and help shape the company. Both were firm but fair and constructive in giving me feedback. I always knew where I stood with them. They were also great role models in how they worked with both our internal and external customers.

Q: What is your advice for women aspiring to advance their career?
A: Go above and beyond, learn to act and react quickly, remember common sense. Trust your gut.  Never stop learning. Think outside the box. Make yourself an asset to the company you are with, and if they are anything like NJ – you get back what you put in, and management will take notice.


Michelle Onsager
Director of Product Management
Years With NJ: 8

Background: I went to school at UW – Steven’s Point for two years before finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Business, online at the University of Phoenix.

Q: What is a professional accomplishment you consider a milestone in your career?
A: During a meeting, one of the newer members of the team opened up about how they felt that they were unsure of what they were doing and that there was a lot more to the role than they had expected. Everyone who had the same job title jumped in to tell them how it is a lot for the role they are in and that our department was a team and everyone is there to help or to answer questions, all without me having to say a word. Not long before this conversation the team didn’t have a lot of collaboration under previous leadership, but somehow during the time since that point, they had come together as a team and were closer than ever. It was this conversation that made me realize that I had done something right as a leader and in my brief time in my current role.

Q: What brought you to Nelson-Jameson?
A: I started at Nelson-Jameson in 2014 while I was still going to school for my degree in Business Administration. My intent was to learn more about the business world in preparation for my future goals. I was promoted from Customer Service into our MRO department and fell in love with my job and the rest, as they say, is history.

Q: What motivated you to step into a leadership role?
A: I love to help people. That is the biggest reason for wanting to be in a leadership role. I want to solve people’s problems and help them grow as a person or at least in their role in the company.

Q: Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
A: Throughout my life I have had a couple of really great leaders. The person who first inspired me was Kelly Kitowski from The Store. I worked at a gas station in Auburndale, WI and she was one of the corporate IT people that would occasionally come out to store locations and solve our problems. I learned from her to always be a positive person for others. It never mattered what problem we were facing in “the field.” She always helped us fix it, while calming the entire situation down.

Once I joined the MRO team here, I further learned how to inspire the people around me to do and be their best. I think the truly good leaders are the ones that set the example. They are dependable, the hardest working person in any meeting or group, and the one that is always willing to roll up their sleeves and help when the going gets tough. They also treat you with mutual respect and don’t use their role as leverage to get you to do something.

Q: What is your advice for women aspiring to advance their career?
A: Never quit working and learning. It is those who are always trying to better themselves and better the team around them that are the ones who succeed. Don’t hold yourself back. When I first joined Nelson-Jameson, I thought I would be here for a couple of years and move on. I never would have thought I would be in the position I am in only seven years later. It was the belief of others that I could accomplish great things. Even though some days I didn’t believe in myself and my ability to take that next step, I believed in the people who believed in me. We all have doubts about our own abilities. Find someone to believe in you enough that it makes you push aside those doubts and go for the positions that you want to be in. 


Jenna Ponshock
MRO Department Manager
Years With NJ: 4

Background: Bachelor’s Degree in Management
from UW-Stout

Q: What is a professional accomplishment you consider a milestone in your career?
A: One professional accomplishment I consider a milestone in my career is when I was hired at Nelson-Jameson. Without starting employment here, I would not be where I am today. I have gained a large amount of industry knowledge and overall growth from the individuals in this organization. I always had my mind set on being in this type of industry and coming here was the perfect choice. Since being hired, I have continued
to grow.

Q: What brought you to Nelson-Jameson?
A: Since I grew up on a dairy farm, I always wanted to do something with agriculture, but I knew I didn’t want to farm. I also like being close to my family, and didn’t really want to move too far from home. I found Nelson-Jameson online and decided that this was a company worth applying for. Four years later, I am very glad I applied.

Q: What motivated you to step into a leadership role?
A: Wanting to help others is what motivated me to step into a leadership role. I noticed how my leaders helped me grow and I wanted to do the same for others.

Q: Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
A: My inspiration for leadership dates back to Junior High when my Ag teacher told me I should go to a leadership conference with the FFA group. I was rather shy back then and it was not in my comfort zone to go to an event like that. But, I said I would try it one time, and if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have to go again. Well, I liked it, and went to several more after that and ended up being the President of the FFA at my High School.

Q: What is your advice for women aspiring to advance their career?
A: My advice for aspiring women would be to believe in yourself, find your passion, and stay driven. Push yourself to never stop learning and be willing to take on tasks that put you out of your comfort zone. Stay positive and be confident in your abilities.


Amanda Nelson Sasse
Director of E-Commerce • Web Development
Years With NJ: 13

Background: BA in Psychology, Minor in Business  from University of Wisconsin-Madison, some graduate school toward an MS in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University. Worked mostly in retail before joining NJ—everything from Merchandising, Purchasing, Management for Crate & Barrel and also Ownership of my own boutique in Chicago.

Q: What is a professional accomplishment you consider a milestone in your career?
A: I don’t think I’ve reached a milestone, as of yet.
I feel like I have so much more I can do to make a significant impact on NJ. 

Q: What brought you to Nelson-Jameson?
A: As a Nelson, I’ve basically been with NJ in some capacity since birth. Formally, however, I interned in Accounting during college and then joined the Board of Directors after I graduated college and had been in Chicago for a few years. I started a full-time position in Sales with NJ after I got married. In July 2022, it will have been 13 years.

Q: What motivated you to step into a leadership role?
A: Family expectation?!? Just kidding, mostly. I do feel a sense of loyalty and tradition in continuing on my family legacy. NJ has been such a big part of my life in so many ways; I want to help it grow and succeed.

Q: Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
A: My Dad, John Nelson. Growing up, his wisdom seemed infinite to me. He knows SO many things about SO many things. He has both a head for industry and one for people—it’s a rare combination for many leaders in the business world. His IQ matches his EQ—he truly wants for people at NJ to succeed and be happy.

Q: What is your advice for women aspiring to advance their career?
A: Don’t define yourself by your gender when approaching your career. Growing up, my parents instilled in me that I could achieve anything I wanted, as long as I worked at it. Never once did it occur to me that I couldn’t do something simply because I was “a girl”. Now, I’m trying to inspire that same sense of confidence and possibility in my young daughter.


Dakonya Freis
VP of Product Management & Marketing
Years With NJ: 20

Background: Bachelors degree. Business Major – Communications Minor. I began working for Nelson-Jameson right out of college.

Q: What is a professional accomplishment you consider a milestone in your career?
A: There have been many accomplishments that I have been proud of over my career, but the team that we have built tops my list. NJ has amazing people in all areas, but when I look at the teams we have built in the Product Departments, Customer Solutions, Marketing and Product Support, I’m excited! I’m excited for the individuals, excited for the opportunities ahead of us as a company and excited at the ambition our teams have. Some of these departments didn’t exist a few years ago. Others have grown significantly both in people and projects they tackle. Each one of them I’m proud of and excited to have as part of our team. Every department has had their share of struggles, but over time we have developed strong collaborative teams that together can tackle anything thrown their way. The members of these teams will continue to learn and grow, pushing NJ to the next level. 

Q: What brought you to Nelson-Jameson?
A: I started with Nelson-Jameson as a Customer Service Representative. I knew various people that worked here and it was suggested that I apply. As they say, the rest is history!

Q: What motivated you to step into a leadership role?
A: I’m not sure I was motivated to move into a leadership role, it just seemed like the next logical progression in my career, many times without me even realizing it. I’ve always tried to work hard and do the next right thing (isn’t that from Frozen….I’ve watched too many kids movies!).

Q: What is your advice for women aspiring to advance their career?
A: Work hard. Ask questions. Be honest and direct. Women can be especially hard on ourselves, but keep your days in-check! Not all days are easy – and there are days that are really tough! But find the positive in what you are doing, even if it is a small win, use that as your motivation to keep going!


Melissa Hoffman
Laboratory Department Manager
Years With NJ: 4

Background: I graduated high school from Rhinelander, WI, then proceeded to college at the University of Wisconsin – Madison earning double bachelor’s degrees in Meat & Animal Science and Dairy Science with a Business and Industry emphasis. Following my undergrad, I went on to earn a master’s degree in Dairy Nutrition while working for Agri-Nutrition Consulting as an in-house Dairy Nutritionist in Windsor, WI. I continued with Agri-Nutrition Consulting as an on-farm Dairy Nutrition Consultant after I moved to Spencer, WI. Other professional experiences include working at Figi’s as a Buyer, Merchandiser and Senior Manager of Merchandising, ESE as a Technical Manager, and Foremost Farms USA as a Production Manager and Quality Assurance Manager. And last, but not least, I joined Nelson-Jameson as a Technical Sales Manager and am now managing the Lab Department. 

Q: What is a professional accomplishment you consider a milestone in your career?
A: I always like to be on the front edge of change and efficiency. A milestone in my career would be implementing a Food Safety Plan and all aspects of FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) at the dairy plant where I served as Quality Assurance Manager. 

Q: What brought you to Nelson-Jameson?
A: Nelson-Jameson is a company that was a tremendous resource when I worked for the dairy plant. I’ve always admired their ability to provide solutions in every aspect of the food industry. When the Technical Sales Manager serving the lab department opportunity became available, I was excited to be able to work directly with customers on solutions for their laboratory needs. Having dairy production and laboratory experience gave me a perspective that allowed me to help our customers. 

Q: What motivated you to step into a leadership role?
A: Learning about every aspect of a business is interesting to me. I am always curious how to improve profits, a process, and myself. I never stop learning and enjoy surrounding myself with ambitious people who have common goals. I’m especially inspired by a team that is passionate about the agricultural industry. With that in mind, I find myself growing into roles that help others do the same.

Q: Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
A: I had a teacher in high school and a professor in college who were great mentors. They continually challenged me to think outside the box and not always take the path that is the easiest. They were instrumental in helping me understand the kind of person I have become—curious and ambitious with a passion to help others.

Q: What is your advice for women aspiring to advance their career?
A: Always reach out of your comfort zone to learn something new. Different experiences add up to a full career. There is a lesson in every moment of life!


Melissa Pasciak
Director of Marketing
Years With NJ: 9

Background: BA in Public Relations from
UW-Eau Claire. Background in marketing for
distribution companies, plus trade show
and event coordination.

Q: What is a professional accomplishment you consider a milestone in your career?
A: Being promoted to Director of Marketing. I always aspired to lead a department of driven, creative people. Reaching this milestone gives me the ability to inspire and challenge the next group of leadership while continuing to grow myself.

Q: What brought you to Nelson-Jameson?
A: After my daughter was born, I was looking for a position at a stable company with growth opportunities. A former co-worker of mine was working at Nelson-Jameson and she said she loved the company so I decided to apply. 

Q: What motivated you to step into a leadership role?
A: The desire to have more impact. I find it exciting to have a hand in laying the groundwork and shaping how my department and the company will continue to grow strategically. Being in a leadership role also gives me the opportunity to build different skills and develop as a leader, while supporting a team and helping them grow to their full potential.

Q: Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
A: My daughter. She continually motivates me to be a better person, and I feel the best way for me to thank her for the strength she gives me, is to raise her in an environment that embraces independence, leadership, and inspiring others.

Q: What is your advice for women aspiring to advance their career?
A: Don’t be afraid to voice what you want. If people don’t know what you want, it is hard for them to provide you the guidance you need to get there.


Devon Vogel
Director of Customer Solutions
Years With NJ: 12

Background: Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in Marketing with a Professional Sales emphasis.

Q: What is a professional accomplishment you consider a milestone in your career?
A: The opportunity to be a leading charge for the creation and expansion of Nelson-Jameson’s inventory solutions program and department has been a rewarding career milestone. Nelson-Jameson has a history of being a value-added supplier – going beyond just the sale of a product. I am proud to be a part of the team that expanded that program reach and established the SupplyRITE™ inventory management services. 

Q: What brought you to Nelson-Jameson?
A: I had known since early in life that “business” was the direction that I felt pulled to. After completing a High School internship in a local company’s marketing department and loving it, I sent out my resume to multiple other companies explaining my interest in another sales and marketing internship. I was provided the opportunity to join Nelson-Jameson via a summer internship that extended to multiple sessions throughout college. Upon graduation from UWEC, I joined Nelson-Jameson full time

Q: What motivated you to step into a leadership role?
A: I greatly enjoy the opportunity to look at a project or situation from multiple viewpoints. Having built a career background at NJ where my various roles have touched upon knowledge in Marketing, Sales, Product Management, Web / IT, and Customer Relations has allowed me to progress into a leadership role. Truly being able to view something from both the customer perspective, while keeping in mind the business intentions of Nelson-Jameson is an exciting and motivating task. 

Q: Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
A: There have been several influential people and mentors in my life and career. I am grateful for those who have positively impacted me—giving me chances to prove myself and succeed, providing feedback and knowledge to grow with, and sharing experiences that have helped shape who I am today.

Q: What is your advice for women aspiring to advance their career?
A: Take on the project or opportunity before you’re ready for it. Provide suggestions when you feel they are valid, but listen and understand if others see things differently than you do. If you are given a chance to do something new, give yourself some grace and the confidence to admit when you are wrong or need more information. Always strive for continuous learning and evolving within your career. I can guarantee you there are a lot of things that I would do differently than I did as a college intern, but part of that is what makes it a journey. We all grow our knowledge base and mature as we experience different events in life and in business, therefore—be willing to evolve. But most of all, learn from your mistakes. There is so much knowledge to be absorbed from others within NJ and the industry. Take the opportunities when they come and create an environment of growth with the people around you.


We are proud of all our leaders here at NJ, and the company culture we have created over the years. As we continue to grow and evolve, we look forward to seeing what our leaders and future leaders accomplish both personally and professionally. If you are interested in learning more about Nelson-Jameson, or joining our organization, click here!

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5S Lean Solutions for The Food Industry

5S is more than a program, it is a comprehensive system for organizing spaces so work can be performed efficiently, effectively, and safely. This system focuses on putting everything where it belongs and keeping the workplace clean, which naturally promotes a safer workplace with more efficiency.

When implementing a 5S system, it is important to remember to start small. Start with a pilot project to get a feel for if/what employee training is needed—how to implement the system, how to track progress, and how to celebrate success.

5S IS A FIVE-STEP PROCESS:

  1. Sort: Separate the tools that are needed to get the job done.
    Remove everything else.
  2. Set in Order: Place all relevant tools within reach of operatives and reduce the need to be away from the workstation.
  3. Shine: Maintain safety and order in the workplace by keeping the tools clean and helping to reduce defects.
  4. Standardize: Create practices that will ensure maintenance of the steps you have already taken by introducing Shadow Boards with color-coded tools.
  5. Sustain: Stay consistent and constantly review standards.

For more information on 5S systems or how to get started, contact our Product Specialists or visit our Learning Center.

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Nelson-Jameson Graduate Award for the Advancement of Dairy Food Science

Pictured Above: (left to right) Mat Bartkowiak, Adam Nelson, Maggie Becher, and John Larsen.

This past year, Nelson-Jameson worked with the Center for Dairy Research and the UW-Madison Foundation to establish the “Nelson-Jameson Graduate Award for the Advancement of Dairy Food Science” for graduate students at the CDR. Adam Nelson, Chairman of the Board, and Mathew J. Bartkowiak, Director of Strategic Relationships, recently had the chance to meet with the first-ever recipients and tour the progress of the Babcock Hall Building Project.

Maggie Becher and John Larsen, two current graduate students, were awarded the first round of scholarships. The two yearly $5,000 scholarships will be given to select graduate students working with the Center for Dairy Research at UW-Madison. Students, in good standing, receive $5,000 each year of their two-year master’s program.

Nelson-Jameson is proud to continue to support the important work of the Center for Dairy Research and all they do for the industry. There is great shared alignment in the pursuit of helping the industry to create safe, quality food, and seek out new innovations to push us collectively forward. We are excited to see what important work Maggie and John accomplish in their pathways towards careers in the industry.

 

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Fall in Love with Naturally Sourced Colors

Oterra™ Natural Colors for candies and confectioneries provide a color palette even Cupid would adore!

As the world’s leading supplier of natural colors, Oterra continues their dedication to applying the goodness and purity of nature to our food. Their advanced technology and mission promotes every step -or arrow!- in the right direction to suit various applications with no compromise on quality or safety, therefore offering a wide product range.

If you are looking for natural colors to help create products for the day of love, there are several Oterra products available. Each offer a full spectrum of colors and natural ingredients to help produce the best color for your specific application.

  • I-Colors®: Colorful, instant powders that plate well and hydrate easily. 
    • Promotes resilient coatings for easy, trouble-free panning. 
    • Ideal for plating perfection. 
    • Product is easy to dose and dissolve due to small particle size which aids in no dephasing, lumps, or spots and ensures an even distribution. 
  • CapColors®: Natural color pigments that offer exceptional color performance and stability. 
    • Retains brightness and intensity with a specific encapsulation formulation designed to improve functionality. 
    • Unique color technology increases color potency to ensure intense, vibrant shades at a lower dosage and works to prevent color migration in layered products. 
    • Works well in high resistance heat, light, and air. 
    • Supports smooth and even coverage of panned products and assists in reducing drying time. 
  • FruitMax®: Minimally processed hues with coloring properties from fruit, vegetables, and edible plants.
    • Oil soluble with recognizable ingredients to easily understand. 
    • Ideal for fat-based fillings, frosting, and eye-catching decorations.
  • ColorFruit®: Multi-purpose colors from nature available in liquid or powder formats.
    • Suitable for macarons, sugar icing, and compressed tablets. 
    • Authorized under various regulatory frameworks to build trust with consumers.

Your candies, baked goods, and desserts can be created with appealing color shades and swirl with combinations of unforgettable artistry and memories—all while using natural coloring ingredients. 

We can help decide which application is best for your product or assist in converting your process to all natural colors. For more information, contact one of our Ingredient Product Specialists today!

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