Straus Family Creamery

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Our People

Our people are our most important resource; they are the heart and soul of the company. We really wanted to post profiles of all of our staff here, but since we have almost 100 employees, we couldn’t do it. Instead we decided to randomly feature some of our employees from our office, to our plant, to our people out in the field.

Below you will find a small selection of employee profiles, to give you a general idea of our people at Straus Family Creamery:


 

Sustainability Manager

Isabelle Reining

How long have you been at Straus?
Almost 3 years.
How did you get here? What did you do before?
I’ve always worked in areas of sustainability and had been in the nonprofit world. I felt that the world of business is an important part of the solution and it was possible to do business in a way that is sustainable. This led to my decision to attend Presidio Graduate School and earn my MBA in Sustainable Management. While I was there I became interested in the sustainable food business realm and quickly knew that was my area of passion. I heard about the Straus opening and I thought that it would pull all of my talents together perfectly.
What is your favorite Straus product?
Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream, but I have to say that I really love our Greek yogurt too.
What do you like about working at Straus?
I feel lucky to have my ideal job. There is a level of creativity and fun that I didn’t expect. Much of my work involves metrics and data collection, which I like, but that is just part of my work in educating our team on what it means to be sustainable. We build employees awareness of the resources used everyday in all aspects of their lives as well as in their particular area of work at Straus. One of our great ideas was to implement reusable pallet wrappers instead of disposable plastic shrink-wrap for securing a pallet of milk crates. My vision is that we have a positive impact in all that we do. In addition to decreasing the drawing down of resources, we should strive to add back and create solutions that make things better. Straus embraces those values as a company.
What do you do in your free time?
I love hiking, camping, and exploring my new home of Petaluma where my husband and I recently relocated. As a child I wanted to be a baker when I grew up and I still enjoy baking and cooking. Northern California reminds me of my family’s farm in Dorset in South West England on the coast and I still love travelling back there to visit my family whenever I can.


Director of Quality Assurance and Research & Development

Pankaj Uttarwar

How long have you been at Straus?
I started at Straus Family Creamery in 2006. 
How did you get here? What did you do before?
When I graduated from high school in India my parents wanted me to choose between studying Food Science and Veterinary Medicine. My father and older brothers were Veterinarians and I was always fascinated by food – that made Food Science an easy choice. My first job was with an ice cream company doing research & development with a focus on introducing new flavors. Before I came to Straus I was the Quality Assurance Supervisor for Otis Spunkmeyer.
What is your favorite Straus product?
It was our sour cream until we introduced whole fat Greek yogurt, which is my new favorite.
What do you like about working at Straus?
My job satisfaction is the best I’ve ever had in my career. I feel pampered by how high the workplace morale is here at Straus. I remember how excited I was the first time I drove out to Marshall for my interview and to meet the other team members. Albert Straus greeted me in milking boots and a lab coat. Over the years he has been a great mentor to me and I appreciate his forward thinking approach to the whole of what we do.
The process of research and development combined with quality assurance to create an excellent new product is fascinating. Here at Straus it is even more challenging because our ingredients must be organic and non-GMO and we try to use the minimum number of ingredients – for me this makes my job so much more interesting and rewarding. Something like solving the mystery of how to get the perfect texture for our Greek yogurt is a thrill and a secret that I can’t tell you.
What do you do in your free time?
I practice meditation and go jogging. I cook everyday for several hours for my wife and two children. It relieves stress and connects me to those I’m cooking for - food made with love always tastes better.


Inside Sales Administrator

Carissa Biss

How long have you been at Straus?
4 years.
How did you get here? What did you do before?
I worked in Customer Service before coming to Straus Family Creamery and I enjoy it because I interact directly with our customers. It is nice to hear their questions, how they feel about our products and also when they make new product suggestions.
What is your favorite Straus product?
That’s a hard one! Well, the Half & Half is amazing. For ice cream it is Mint Chocolate Chip – hands down.
What do you like about working at Straus?
Working for Straus has made me inspired to tell people about good food and how important it is to know where your food comes from. I get more educated every day.
I also like how well they pay attention and take care of their employees - they want to keep their employees well rounded, physically and mentally. Albert Straus greets us every single day when he gets in and he says goodbye every day when he leaves - even on days when you hear from him five times in between.
What do you do in your free time?
I spend time with my family and enjoy camping and traveling to see other family and friends. I also like to exercise and listen to music.


Production Manager

Miguel Gonzales

How long have you been at Straus?
13 Years
How did you get here? What did you do before?
I was in Mexico and was working on dairies there. After I came to the US, one of my friends recommended Straus Family Creamery and they gave me the opportunity. When I started here I was first working on sanitation, then I switched to the different lines: I started at the glass line, then moved to the plastic, and later became operator at the butter and ice cream lines. About five or six years ago I became Production Supervisor and recently Production Manager.
What is your favorite Straus product?
I say everything! If I had to pick I would say Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, but I also like the yogurt.
What do you like about working at Straus?
I love working in a team, to train and to help other workers when they have questions or when they have difficulties setting priorities. I really like my job.
What do you do in your free time?
I don’t have much free time, but when I do I spend it with my family.


Director of People & Culture

Laurangelica “Angel” Lechón

How long have you been at Straus?
3 years.
How did you get here? What did you do before?
By chance. I was a student in my last semester at Sonoma State doing research work for a professor in the languages department. He left an email printout on my workstation from a recruiter regarding an open position with a “wonderful, local, organic dairy” looking for a bilingual “People & Culture Partner”.  I loved, loved, loved, the sound of that title and the description of the job. Since I already owned four pairs of cowboy boots, I figured, what the heck, I should see about this dairy opportunity. The rest is her-story.
What is your favorite Straus product?
Hmmmm… my favorite? The butter. I bring a stick with me when I go out for breakfast, you know, in case someone uses other butter. Everything is better with Straus butter. Everything. Seriously.
What do you like about working at Straus?
Our mission and the fact that we truly stand by it – it isn’t just lip service to anyone here. I love that our triple-bottom line includes a commitment to our employees. I love that  Straus embraces diversity and that my own cultural duality is so sincerely appreciated. I love that I am able to come to work every day and have the opportunity to help any member of our team – be it for work issues like benefits or payroll, or be it for matters outside of work such as getting housing info, resources or information to apply for college and financial aid. I love that our organization is so awesome -- every day I am terribly proud to be part of it. 
What do you do in your free time?
Enjoy my two kids. And hike, I’ve been doing that for a year now and I love it. Recently I did a 25 mile hike. I enjoy gardening too.  This year I am actually growing my own non-GMO, organic vegetables for the first time ever – tomatoes and beets. I got the hook-up for organic compost from Albert’s farm, which is totally cool.


Quality Assurance Supervisor

Ian-Hero Serrano

How long have you been at Straus?
2 ½ years.
How did you get here? What did you do before?
This is my first job out of college. I grew up in the Philippines and came to the US when I was 14 years old. After High School I joined Summer Search, which is a mentorship and scholarship program that helped me go to college. I graduated in 2010 with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. 
What is your favorite Straus product?
I would say that my favorite is Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream.
What do you like about working at Straus?
I like that it is fast paced and busy, because time flies and every day I learn something new. Learning is a really big thing for me; whether it is new processes, running the Quality Assurance program or doing Research & Development projects on the side. There are all these opportunities they have given me at Straus Family Creamery:  To learn, to grow and to take on leadership - I am very thankful for that.
What do you do in your free time?
I stay active and I run a lot outdoors. I also started to play soccer with the Straus team, although I never really cared about soccer. But playing in this team is a lot of fun.


President

Albert Straus

How long have you been at Straus?
Since the beginning, more than 19 years ago.
How did you get here? What did you do before?
After studying Dairy Science at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo I returned to the Straus Dairy and managed it. Later in 1994 I founded the creamery.
What is your favorite Straus product?
Ice cream of course. Right now my favorite is the Brown Sugar Banana.
What do you like about working at Straus?
Making great dairy products. I like working with farmers and the challenges of making things better and more sustainable. People here are great to work with.
What do you do in your free time?
There isn’t much! Try to get exercise and be outside on the farm as much as possible.