Q&A

Getting to Know Derrick Coleman, Project Manager

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing on with our Getting to Know CIFT blog series with our Project Manager, Derrick Coleman. Derrick has been with CIFT for a little over one year and he is an expert in all things product development and technical consultation with deep experience. We asked Derrick some questions to get a glimpse into his role and what makes him excited to go to work every day.

What do you do at CIFT?
The primary objective of my position is to serve as a representative of CIFT for the development and building of clients and revenue with food industry manufacturers, vendors, and service providers by developing working relationships and projects that fulfill CIFT’s mission. Most of the projects that I’m working on involve some form of product development and/or technical consultation. Being able to “multitask” is a strong asset and characteristic of being a part of the CIFT team. No two days are the same.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
There are three things that motivate me to wake up and go to work. First, and foremost, is my family. They are my everything. Secondly, the opportunity to work with such a broad variety of clients from startups to seasoned companies with strong historic roots. Last, but not least, the work at CIFT is ever changing and is not lineal which compliments my work style of preference.

What has been your favorite project so far?
There are quite a few to choose from. However, I will have to say that developing a protein bar for a client was one of the most technically challenging, yet rewarding projects that I have ever worked on. My involvement extended beyond bench top formulating to working with both domestic and international ingredient suppliers to several different co-manufacturers.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
I have over 20 years experience in the food industry with strong experience in both product development and technical sales. No project is too big or too small. CIFT has an excellent team of dedicated Project Managers that can work with food industry clients in need of Product Development, Quality Assurance, Engineering and/or Operations support.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
My wife and I separately have either been in a movie or tv show. Secondly, I love to travel, specifically to all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico.

Read Derrick’s product development blog, “Staying Competitive Through Product Development.”

Q&A

Getting to Know Paula Ray, NOCK Operations Manager

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing our Getting to Know CIFT series with our Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) Operations Manager, Paula Ray. Paula has been with CIFT for 15 years and she works with all our NOCK tenants and keeps the facility running smoothly. We asked Paula some questions to get a glimpse into her role and what makes her excited to go to work every day.

What do you do at CIFT?

I manage the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) and work with clients that are interested in using the facility. I arrange and maintain all documents that are needed for regulatory inspections, schedule all maintenance on the facility and handle FDA/ODA and local health department inspections. I also make sure that all clients are following food safety protocols and are compliant with Good Manufacturing Practices. 

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

I like being a part of the team that helps entrepreneurs get their products on shelves by making their items in CIFT’s licensed commercial facility. CIFT has been committed to this project for many years and I am happy to be a part of it. Every day is different. Seeing small food companies that have a dream and the fact that we can help with that dream makes me feel like I’m making a difference. The energy they put into creating a recipe and producing is extraordinary. 

What has been your favorite project so far?

I can’t say I have a favorite, but I like the first phase when entrepreneurs are over excited and thrilled to take the plunge on producing a product. Then seeing companies excel and find their niche is so gratifying.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?

I throw myself into all projects and if I can’t figure something out I will reach out to the CIFT team for the necessary help and find the correct way to get the job done. It’s been a pleasure to be part of CIFT and everything that we have to offer. 

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

My down time and a place that I go to when I just want to unwind is my greenhouse and gardening. Everyone needs something to do that makes them truly happy. Jumping in our camper and escaping from realty for a few days is always a plus.

Learn more about the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen and our services on our Emerging Food Processors webpage.

Q&A

Getting to Know Matt Inniger, Project Engineer

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing our Getting to Know CIFT series with our Project Engineer, Matt Inniger. Matt has been with CIFT for 3 years and in that time has worked with hundreds of companies providing various engineering solutions needed to fit unique situations. We asked Matt some questions to get a glimpse into his role and what motivates him.

What do you do at CIFT?
I’m responsible for providing engineering solutions to CIFT clients, facilitating services provided by outside A&E groups, and managing CIFT’s Advanced Technology Program in the areas of automation and robotics. I also support our Product Development team on certain projects, both in benchtop work and production scale-up

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
My biggest passion is health and fitness, and as a part of that I care very deeply about the foods that I eat. That passion is what inspired me to choose the food manufacturing industry as a career so I could design products and manufacturing systems that allow all types of people to eat convenient and healthy food.

What has been your favorite project so far?
While CIFT works with clients of all sizes, I really enjoy working with our midsize manufacturers, as the solutions that we provide don’t just improve the bottom line, but often they’re the difference between a business succeeding or failing. Two examples of that are our work with Wild Ohio Brewing in Columbus to re-design their staple product to be a low-calorie seltzer competitor, and our ongoing work with Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy where we have helped them with a variety of equipment and process initiatives to make their great products even better.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
Most of the people who are familiar with CIFT are only familiar with a small portion of the things we can do and the solutions we provide. If the manufacturers in our network could know anything new about myself and the organization, it’s that whatever problem your facing or new initiative your considering, CIFT can provide value and assistance through some part of our business. So please, just call us!

Learn more about our food services and success stories through our food processing blogs.

Q&A

Getting to Know Cathy Witte, Business Development Specialist

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing our Getting to Know CIFT series with our Business Development Specialist, Cathy Witte. Cathy has been with CIFT since 2014 and has been vital in strengthening and building relationships with manufacturers all across the state. We asked Cathy some questions to get a glimpse into her role and what motivates her.

What do you do at CIFT?
I reach out to manufacturers across our 18 county region to introduce CIFT/Ohio MEP and provide service and assistance to these companies.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
I enjoy talking to manufacturers in all types of industries, and learning about their business and how we can help.

What has been your favorite project so far?
I don’t have a specific favorite project per se, since I am more involved with starting the relationships, not managing the projects. But my favorite part of my job is when I connect with a manufacturer who really could use our assistance and expertise!

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
Being a non-profit, we are really here to help our manufacturers in Ohio stay competitive, grow and also build relationships.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I was a ski racer back in the day! Still enjoy the sport every winter, but in a much more relaxed way!

Learn more about our manufacturing services and success stories through our different manufacturing blogs.