In this Q & A interview with John Kallestad, a hygienic cup filling machine sales specialist, we discuss some of the highlights about working at Syntegon. Learn some of the in’s and out’s of what it takes to be a sales professional for Syntegon, ways in which we are development partners with our customers, and provide some industry insight about hygienic cup, tray, and bottle filling.
Hi John! Can you share with us a little bit about your job and what a typical day looks like as the expert in West Coast Regional Sales Specialist for Osgood/Syntegon?
As a hygienic filling machine sales specialist for Osgood, I start my day off with a fresh cup of coffee and checking out some of my favorite industry newsletters to see if there is any breaking news. I like to be ahead of the curve in the dairy and food industry, so I can put myself in my customers “shoes” to understand their challenges.
One of my favorite parts about my job is that I work with our customers and prospective customers from the very start of their projects. I always stay on top of their needs to help them through the process of discovering their machine requirements. This involves a lot of back and forth conversations, in-person visits to their facilities, factory walk-throughs to get a hands on understanding of their needs and challenges, and analyzing their product and packaging goals. There really is no such thing as a typical day for me, because there are a lot of in’s and out’s to the customer projects I work on, and personally I find that challenge really rewarding.
- What are some of the unique and exciting challenges you would like our audience to understand about your profession?
One of the most exciting things is discovering what the customer needs vs. what we can create for them. Sometimes I have the unique challenge of balancing the technological capabilities alongside their wish list. I really like taking those deep dive exploration calls and Skype sessions to figure out how our customers currently manage their processes, what they want to improve, and providing them with feedback for what we want to build for them.
- What attracted you to this career? What can you share to inspire other people about cup filling technology/capital equipment sales?I started at Osgood in 2016 as a temporary hire. My bachelor’s degree is in business and GIS (geographical information systems) from Minnesota State University – Mankato. My sales and marketing manager here at Syntegon, Jonathan Viens, saw my passion and dedication to my assignments and really allowed me the room to prove myself and grow within my department. I very quickly picked up everything there was to know about the past machines we built and the machines we currently build. I was instrumental in creating some of the technical processes and sales tools we now use regularly in the sales department, and I had the opportunity to assist some of our past regional sales managers with their projects. I soaked up everything I could because I really enjoyed the capital equipment world and saw a future for myself at Osgood.
- What distinguishes Osgood and Ampack in terms of hygienic design that helps end users meet the rigorous requirements of the FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act)?We fully understand that our end users need to be able to easily clean their filling machine, so it is of great importance that changeovers are easily performed on our machines. This is achieved on all of our hygienic filling machines because of our open design, which allows for easy cleaning and is 3-A compliant for design and materials. Additionally, the product contact surfaces are 316-L stainless steel to meet full wash-down requirement. We make custom filling machines to meet Clean, Ultra-Clean, and Aseptic industry standards. It is important that our customers know that changeovers are not just mechanical but that they also include the cleaning of the machine between product switches.
- We have many interesting hygienic cup, tray and bottle projects developing right now. Can you explain to our audience about a project you are working on that inspires you?We are working on an oats-in-a-cup project that involves third party weigh scales and auger-filler (this is a used to fill powders for food products). The cool thing about this project is that we have created technologies that allow for more flexibility, which makes room for different product formats to be run on this machine. What inspires me most is that we can take a concept for a future project and bring it to life for our customers, and then many months later, see that product sitting on the shelf in one of my local grocery stores. I love knowing I was part of helping bring a new nutritious and delicious food item to my customers consumers.
- As an expert in your field, what trends or global topics are you seeing that are currently in the spotlight for customers seeking preformed cup filling solutions?Some of the important issues our customers come to us with are product changeover and machine downtime. One big goal we have for our customers across the broad is to minimize machine stoppage so there is less downtime between product changeover and cup formats. Another big issue customer’s face is machine innovations. One thing that sets Syntegon apart is that we always strive to enhance our machines and packaging technology. We take pride in our machines and we want to be the best in the industry. We stand by the quality and advancements of our machines and that is why we have had repeat customers coming to us for decades for their filling machine needs.
- What do you wish to see for the future of the packaging industry?I am looking forward to the day when sustainable packaging becomes more affordable for companies to switch over to. Right now, there are lot of enhancements being created in the sustainable packaging world, but the price ranges for these materials is just not there for most US based customers. Another thing I am looking forward to is further developments in hygienic design and adoption. Hygienic innovation is very important in the dairy industry, and we specialize in this topic. One of the future projections as industry experts in hygiene is to see hygienic innovations being adopted by various other food segments globally. I really look forward to the day when I can start helping other food segments make these investments in their food products.
John Kallestad’s experience began in 2014 as a sales associate at The Home Depot. He had an aptitude for memorizing everything he could about all of the tools, technology, and product availability. He earned his Bachelor’s degree studying Business and GIS at the Minnesota State University –Mankato. He was able to apply his business and technology skills to his work at Osgood Industries, LLC, a Syntegon Company when he started as a temporary hire in the sales department. He was quickly moved into the sales support specialist role because of his dedication to customer relationships, work ethic, and his deep understanding of the machine capabilities and was eventually promoted to West Coast Regional Sales Specialist.
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