My life in the grocery trade

David Johnson, general manager of Kestrel Foods

David Johnson, general manager of Kestrel Foods

BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Before joining Kestrel Foods, I worked for over 25 years with Avondale Foods. I started with Avondale Foods as part of a student placement programme from Loughry College (CAFRE) and moved steadily through the ranks to become Factory Manager.

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?

As general manager of Kestrel Foods, I work closely with the managing director to develop

and implement the manufacturing strategy

and objectives. We produce over 160 product

combinations and export to 36 countries

worldwide.

WHEN DID YOU TAKE UP THIS POST?

I started with Kestrel in June 2016

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF

YOUR JOB?

The best part of my job is the diversity of it, no two

days are the same. We produce so many different

products and deal with so many different countries

that it is impossible to get bored. As soon as you

are finished one task, you are immediately dealing

with something completely different – I love that

challenge!

Dealing with so many markets, sometimes the time

difference can be a challenge – however there is

nothing we can do about that!

BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY

My role includes the direct control of a range of dayto-

day operations at our food-processing plant in

Craigavon, including capacity planning, production,

supply chain, health and safety, technical and quality

assurance, engineering and warehouse operations.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST

MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

I would say that working as a factory manager

is a bit like sailing; it is a series of many small

adjustments that keep you on the right course

rather than one big move so it is really hard to

pick out one defining moment. Overall, I would

say I am most proud of managing a talented

group of people who helped drive continuous

growth through some very challenging times. To

do that, successfully and steadily, is what makes

me most proud.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT

BEING INVOLVED WITH THE

INDUSTRY?

In Northern Ireland, we have a number of

first-class food producers and manufacturers. I

have been in the industry for over 25 years and

recently I have seen a major shift in the Northern

Irish food sector. We are more outward looking

than ever before, with a big push on the export

market. It’s particularly exciting to work for a

company like Kestrel Foods at this time, as it has

a very strong local presence, and really focus on

expanding its global reach.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO

UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?

In my spare time, I work as a swim coach in my

local swim club, play golf when I can and I also

enjoy spending time with my wife and two sons.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT

YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE

MAY KNOW

I am a part-time farmer! I’ve been breeding

Pedigree Charolais & Commercial Beef cattle

for the best part of 25 years as well as producing

crops.

 

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