Learn from ProFood World's Manufacturing Innovation Award winners past and present what set their new or renovated lines apart to achieve success. What exactly does it mean to be a state-of-the-art facility? What advances were important to accomplish that? Many of these operations were facing new COVID-19 lockdown constraints and/or the resulting supply chain and workforce issues. And yet they expertly overcame adversity and created production lines optimized for productivity, efficiency, food safety, sustainability and more.  
Get insight into:
  • Innovative ways to meet tight deadlines and budgets, despite various setbacks.
  • How to improve worker safety and food safety through adaptations in facility design.
  • Maintaining the quality and taste your brand is known for while introducing automation that improves productivity.

Greg Eidam II

Head Distiller/Secretary, Sugarlands Distilling

Greg Eidam II is the master distiller for Sugarlands Distilling Company, co-establishing the company in 2013 with President Ned Vickers. Spirits crafted by Eidam have won over 200 awards, including Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey winning Best in Class Whiskey at the 2019 American Craft Spirits Association Awards and Double Gold in the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Eidam oversees the production of Sugarlands Shine, Appalachian Sippin’ Cream, High Rock Vodka and Roaming Man Whiskey, as well as Sugarlands research and development, and engineering projects.

Anil Neti

Senior Plant Manager, SunOpta

Anil Neti is the Senior Plant Manager of SunOpta’s plant-based beverage manufacturing plant in Midlothian, Texas. He led the startup of this new plant operations by supporting teams with designs, permits, construction, equipment installation, qualification, recruiting, training and successfully transitioning into plant operations. Prior to joining SunOpta in October of 2021, Anil served as Director of Operations at Keurig Dr Pepper and as Plant Manager at Kerry Group. He also has experience serving in operations, research & development, engineering, and maintenance departments in automotive and fiber optic cable industries.

Anil has extensive experience in business leadership including starting up green fields and brown fields, turning around failing plants, capital projects, operations strategy, finance (P&L), sales, marketing, and customer service. As a leader in operations management, he successfully delivers KPIs including safety, quality, growth, and profitability through focus on Total Productive Maintenance and productivity improvements.

His engineering and technical experience include automation, controls, process engineering, utilities, wastewater treatment and manufacturing execution systems. Additionally, Anil is a master of negotiations, building great relationships with county, city, state, and community members. He is an expert in organizational effectiveness and development, creating high-performing technical and cross-functional teams to deliver breakthrough results.

Anil earned a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Kennesaw State University and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Arizona.

Manish Paudel

Site Director, MWC

Greetings, I am the site Director at MWC, a joint venture between DFA, Select Milk, and Glanbia. Before this role, I worked at different Glanbia Facilities in New Mexico and Idaho, gaining valuable experience in the dairy industry. During this greenfield site start-up, I was part of the operations readiness team, responsible for ramping up cheese and whey production at our new state-of-the-art MWC facility in St Johns. I am from Nepal and migrated to the US when I was 18 to continue my college education. I have a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from the University of New Mexico. I enjoy problem-solving and learning about new things. I recently completed the Harvard Business School Online certificate program in Leading with Finance. In addition, I am on the board of Clinton County Catalyst. Maybe a bit obsessed, but I love golfing and traveling in my free time. I am passionate about using my skills and knowledge to impact the world positively.

Chris Whitehair

Vice President of Operations, SunOpta

Chris Whitehair joined SunOpta in April 2017 as Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain. Prior to SunOpta, Mr. Whitehair was Senior Vice President of Operations for Private Brands at Treehouse Foods from February 2016 until April 2017. Before joining Treehouse, Mr. Whitehair spent 16 years with ConAgra Foods as Vice President of Supply Chain & Operations for the Snack, Private Label and International Divisions. Mr. Whitehair spent 5 years with Quaker Oats in Plant Management roles, and he started his career with General Mills in their Cereal Division.

Mr. Whitehair graduated from Kansas State University with a BS in Milling Science.

Aaron Hand

Editor in Chief, ProFood World

Aaron Hand has three decades of experience in B-to-B publishing with a particular focus on technology. He has been with PMMI Media Group since 2013, much of that time as Executive Editor for Automation World, where he focused on continuous process industries. Prior to joining ProFood World full time in late 2020, Aaron worked as Editor at Large for PMMI Media Group, reporting for all publications on a wide variety of industry developments, including advancements in packaging for consumer products and pharmaceuticals, food and beverage processing, and industrial automation. He took over as Editor-in-Chief of ProFood World in 2021. Aaron holds a B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University and an M.S. in Journalism from the University of Illinois.

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