Jason Schierling is the new manager at Lodi’s General Mills plant. In a recent interview with News-Sentinel Editor Rich Hanner, Schierling discussed his background and transition to the local plant from a broad management career with General Mills.
Schierling lives in Elk Grove with his wife Hana, daughter Zora, 7, and son Zane, 3.
(Due to company policy, Schierling was not able to discuss some items, such as possible changes or projects at the plant, its specific product portfolio, or how the Lodi plant fits into the overall scheme of operations for the company. The interview was arranged by Sheila Kley of the General Mills corporate public relations staff, who participated via conference call from Minneapolis.)
Q: Can you share some of your background?
A: I was raised near Inman, Kan., where my family was involved in production farming and salt mining.
Q: You mean there are salt mines in Kansas?
A: Yes, in fact there is a salt mining museum not far from where I grew up, in Hutchinson, Kan.
Q: Did you work on the farm growing up?
A: I did. My dad raised wheat, corn, soybeans and cattle. We also had horses, about 40, so I helped with the training and breaking of the horses, too. ... I did not work in the salt mines, though.
Q: How about high school and college?
A: In high school, I was pretty academically focused. I took the vocational agriculture classes, although I did play a little basketball. ... I went to Kansas State University in Manhattan and majored in milling science. As a senior, I was fortunate to have an internship with General Mills in Kansas City. I started as a management associate. (Note: Schierling has worked 19 years for General Mills in varied capacities, including milling superintendent, project manager, product manager and, most recently, as the plant manager at the General Mills operation in Milwaukee.)
Q: What stands out to you about the Lodi plant?
A: There is so much pride here in our work and our products ... Everyone has made me feel very welcome here at the plant and in the community as well.
Q: In the past, plant managers have played active roles in the community. Do you plan to continue that pattern?
A: Absolutely. General Mills is about nourishing lives. So I look forward to doing that in the community ... I am on the board of the Lodi Boys and Girls Club, and we’re supportive of many community programs, including the Salvation Army and the food bank. I’m also excited about the Trix Run, which benefits a number of local organizations.
Q: So are you going to be running in the Trix Run yourself?
A: I used to run a bit, but the knees are not what they used to be. But I will be there.
Q: Plant managers in Lodi have had differing lengths of service. The late Bob Wheeler was manager for many years, and the most recent manager, Carson Funderburke, was here for about four years. Is there any projection for how long you might be manager here?
A: It is hard to predict ... General Mills offers so many experiences and opportunities. I can say I am really happy to be here, and I am grateful for this opportunity.
Q: How would you describe your management style?
A: Leading by example. General Mills has given me so many skills and experiences ... I really like the aspect of appreciation and recognition. I have great respect for what it takes to do the job and the pride everyone takes in our products.
Q: Is there a particular event or program that reflects this?
A: Probably the best example is just going up to employees and telling them, “Thank you — thank you for all you do for our company and our plant.”
Q: Any hobbies?
A: With our kids at a really fun age, I spend as much time playing with the children as possible. And California has so much to offer, we’re looking forward to exploring. And I must admit, I’m happy that I haven’t had to pick up a snow shovel in quite a while.
Contact Editor Rich Hanner at email@example.com.