- Organic and natural frozen food maker Amy’s Kitchen promoted Paul Schiefer to the position of president. Schiefer, a 16-year company veteran, will be responsible for employee engagement, supply chain, sales and marketing, technology and Amy's Drive Thru.
- The company also announced a new board of directors. It includes co-founder and CEO Andy Berliner and his wife and co-founder Rachel Berliner. Other members include former partner at Centerview Partners Andrew Woeber, former Clorox executive vice president Beth Springer and United Natural Foods Inc. founder Michael Funk.
- After a difficult 2022 at Amy’s Kitchen with reports of poor working conditions, an abrupt factory closure and complaints that sexual harassment claims were mishandled, the company is replacing its leadership. In recent months, the company has also added new leadership in supply chain, HR and communications positions.
Amy’s Kitchen is following the playbook of many companies before it: In the wake of big problems, put new people on top.
While Schiefer is new to his role, he isn’t new to Amy’s Kitchen. He’s worked with the company in a variety of roles since 2007. Most recently, he served as the interim president of Amy’s Drive Thru and as vice president of impact and communications. Other roles he’s had in the company include senior director of sustainability, director of international operations and director of information services.
Schiefer will directly report to co-founder and CEO Andy Berliner, who remains responsible for finances, culinary ideation and product development.
There have been several other new executive announcements at Amy’s Kitchen. Earlier this month, company veteran Goretti Hamlin became the new chief people officer, overseeing HR strategy and employee engagement. In January, the company brought in several external hires for supply chain and operations roles, including Oksana Woloszczuk, a former McCain vice president, as chief supply chain officer.
Although there is new leadership in place, the real question is whether the company will be able to make the changes that employees had been pushing for. The company opened 2022 with high profile investigations into workers complaining about unsafe and inhumane working conditions, including lack of bathroom breaks, penalties for sick days and retaliatory actions for complaints. Employees attempted to unionize, and complaints were filed with the National Labor Relations Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Some California retailers banned the company’s products in response to the reports.
The abrupt closure of a California factory where the company made frozen pizzas last year also turned heads. More than 300 people lost their jobs when the factory unexpectedly shuttered. The company said that the plant had a monthly $1 million operating loss due to shifts in customer behavior and supply chain issues, but the timing — as employee complaints against the company grew — turned many heads.
The OSHA case has been resolved with a $25,000 fine, KQED reported, and many of the complaints with the NLRB are being settled.
The challenge for Schiefer and the other new leaders at the company is to ensure the issues brought up by the workers are resolved, and to move the company back toward growth. By tapping people with experience in the company, Amy’s Kitchen is showing that it values its reputation and ethos as an ethical and thoughtful company. Adding more outside advisers will also help the company with governance issues, and could work to prevent issues like those that dominated 2022 from developing and getting worse in the future.