You might not know the name Lancaster Colony, but you almost certainly have one of its products in your refrigerator or freezer right now.
Lancaster Colony is the company that owns and makes the market-dominating Marzetti salad dressing and dip brand along with other products such as Sister Schubert’s homemade rolls and New York Brand Bakery Texas toast. It’s a $1.2 billion-a-year company based in Columbus, part of the Center for Operational Excellence since 1998 – and starting a brand new chapter in its corporate story.
David Ciesinski, who joined the company as COO in 2016 and took over as CEO last year, will be highlighting that new chapter in a keynote address he’s delivering to close out COE’s first members-only session of the year: A Feb. 9 networking and learning event at the Blackwell on the campus of Fisher College of Business.
New to Lancaster Colony, Ciesinski is a seasoned veteran of the packaged food industry who’s served in leadership roles at well-known brands such as H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
In his new role with Lancaster Colony, he’s said he’s making continuous improvement a central focus of the company’s forward momentum, leveraging a multimillion-dollar project portfolio and growing team of Black Belts to cut expenses in products’ journey to the shelf and eliminate waste along the way. More importantly, Ciesinski said he’s working to create a culture in which employees are driven by purpose and data-centric decision making.
That sense of purpose and data-rooted decision making will both prove critical in the years ahead for Lancaster Colony, which is dealing with unprecedented change in consumer preferences that are shaking up the restaurant industry (the company supplies a number of top chains in addition to brand-licensing deals on their own products) and grocery aisles (the company’s biggest customer is Wal-Mart). Lancaster Colony itself, though, is no stranger to change. The company was formed in 1961 when several glass and housewares makers merged and went public in 1969, when it bought T. Marzetti Co.
In the subsequent decades, the company grew as a conglomerate, selling a wide range of products. As recently as 2003, its glassware, candle and automotive businesses made up more than 40% of its sales. Since then, the company has made a concerted move to sharpen its focus on its food brands, becoming exclusively so by 2014.
In his presentation, Ciesinski will offer a candid look at his lessons learned in this new era for a company with a more than half-century legacy.
This session is available for in-person attendance and via livestream for members. Registration is available here.