Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector has more than 4,000 establishments in the province, employing over 125,000 people.
Many of those 125,000 people have been with their company for years, starting in more entry-level positions and working their way up. Along the way, they receive encouragement and training from their employers, who are invested in helping their people grow in their roles.
One person who’s done this is Adam Fontaine, who started at Bonduelle over 9 years ago as a sanitation worker. Today, he works for the company as the plant manager for their Ingersoll facility.
We recently spoke with Adam about his career journey, his advice for people looking to get into the food and beverage processing industry and more:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started with Bonduelle over 9 years ago?
My Name is Adam Fontaine, I began my career with Bonduelle just over 9 years ago at their Ingersoll plant. I was fresh out of college and, like anyone, wanted to start working right away in order to begin making an income.
I decided to apply to Bonduelle,’ which is located in my hometown of Ingersoll, Ontario, in the hope of bridging the gap between my graduation and the hiring process within my education background. (Criminology at the time). I was fortunate to accept the position of sanitation worker following my interview!
You started with the company as a sanitation worker, can you tell us about what the role entailed?
My role began as a sanitation employee in the packaging department, I was directly responsible for the cleanliness of the department, equipment and ensuring food-safe measures were taken into account during all processes. This position allowed me to gain a good understanding of the business and gave me insight into what food processing and manufacturing were all about.
You’re now working as a Plant Manager, can you describe how you worked your way up to that position?
In order to grow and develop within Bonduelle, I took advantage of the cross-departmental job postings to gain as much exposure to the business as I could.
Sanitation was my first position and from there worked as a forklift operator, packaging scheduler, logistics supervisor, operations manager and now currently the plant manager. I dedicated my time to learning while developing through these positions to better support my overall goal, making a greater impact from a leadership point of view.
Can you tell us about the kinds of training and support you received Bonduelle to get to that role and how it helped you?
Bonduelle is and was very supportive in relation to my ambitions, they helped supply the resources needed for me to achieve those various levels of employment in many ways. They supported me financially through the tuition reimbursement program which allowed me to enroll in the IFMA program (International Facility Management Association) at Algonquin College.
Some other development training I have benefited from through Bonduelle includes Frontline Leadership Training, Discovery and Lean 6 Sigma.
What would you say is your favourite part of the job?
Learning and engaging is definitely the aspect of my role I enjoy the most, as you develop you realize it isn’t about knowing everything but more about listening, understanding and collaborating as a team. I am confident in saying that I know something about each of my team’s personal lives, which to me shows the impact and benefit that being a good leader can have on the workforce overall.
What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting with a food and beverage processing company in a more frontline/entry-level position?
I was someone who was hesitant to apply because it was not in my scope of employment at the time nor did I know much about the food industry. However, I quickly realized, once I took that first position, that there was so much more to it than just another manufacturing job. There was a purpose there and that purpose was the same for all employees “To provide people, families and loved ones with safe food to eat”. I would say that the rewarding feeling of supplying people with safe food to consume outweighs any risks that may come with any food manufacturing position entry or executive level.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to get started in the food and beverage processing industry?
My biggest advice would be to have an open mind and to be ready to learn! The food and beverage industry is very unique in that you constantly have the ability to learn new things, whether that is CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) regulations, audit processes for food-safety requirements, the do’s and don’ts of food manufacturing, etc. It is challenging yet rewarding if you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone, learn and develop.
Ready to start your career in Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry?
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