Jim Costello has over three decades of experience in the food manufacturing industry. As Founder and President of FoodOps LLC, Jim oversees all company operations; facilitates new partnerships and manufacturing relationships for clients; and develops successful quality control programs and procedures. Under Jim’s leadership, FoodOps has enabled entrepreneurs to successfully commercialize dozens of products. Prior to founding FoodOps, Jim served as a consultant (2009-11) and then Vice President of Operations for Angie’s Boomchickapop (2011-16) in Mankato, Minnesota, guiding the company from a $1 million startup to a major producer grossing $80 million. At Angie’s, Jim developed and launched new products (including the company’s top seller); oversaw the entire supply chain; and directed the Quality and Food Safety programs. Before joining Angie’s, Jim held a variety of positions with companies such as Pillsbury, the Service Engineering Group, and Boston Scientific. He has directed award-winning Research & Development Teams and successfully managed multimillion-dollar budgets.
John Castillo is an expert project manager with over 25 years of experience in corporate operations, leadership, management, and training. John’s leadership style emphasizes team building, mentoring, and cross-functional alignment at both the lab and plant levels. His extensive background runs the gamut of corporate manufacturing operations, with a broad spectrum of corporations ranging from small entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. He has worked full time and/or consulted for the United States Army, Boston Scientific, Malt-O-Meal, Post Consumer Brands, and Angie’s Boomchickapop. John’s expertise includes manufacturing startups; research and development platforms; FDA-regulated manufacturing; quality assurance; and training for both skills development and team building.
Erin Seidl is an accomplished food scientist with experience in all aspects of product development and production. As a Food Scientist and R&D Manager at Angie’s Boomchickapop, she formulated and developed 23 new products, including popcorn, kettle corn, puffs, bars, clusters, and other snack items. She also generated nutrition panels and ingredient declarations (as well as proofed and corrected them); sourced ingredients; cultivated new supplier relationships; managed shelf-life studies; and provided regulatory guidance to the Angie’s marketing team. Prior to working at Angie’s, Erin served as a manager and lab coordinator at Cargill, specializing in snack and cereal products. She also worked with suppliers and co-manufacturers to scale up production. Erin has served as an independent consultant, guiding the company Sunopta in the development of its finished product and ingredients database. Erin also runs her own business, Suds! Bath and Body, which sells all-natural bath and body products.
Food Science Advisor
Craig Vanderwaal brings 30 years of food science experience to the Food Ops team. Over the span of his career, he has worked with such industry giants as General Mills, Cargill, and Malt-o-Meal/Post Holdings, but also with smaller companies like Ronnoco Coffee in St. Louis, Missouri. At General Mills, Craig helped to develop many popular products, such as Totino’s pizza and snack rolls, Chex Mix, and various breakfast cereals. He has worked on research and development; product testing; cost savings in the manufacturing process; quality assurance; and training employees in GMP, HAACP, and quality assurance. As a consultant, Craig has overseen the development, testing, and marketing of new products, as well as advised on institutional culture issues in various companies, helping to improve productivity and company morale. Craig is interested in using his experience to mentor new and innovative food entrepreneurs.
Dan Devenport is a food safety and quality assurance specialist with over a decade of experience. Dan’s expertise is in quality management systems and supply chain development. He is also an accomplished trainer able to work with a variety of audiences, from the individual to 100-person seminars. He holds multiple certifications, including HACCP, SQF, and FSPCA Certification in FSMA Preventive Controls. Prior to joining the FoodOps team, Dan served as an in-plant Quality Assurance Manager and as a Regulatory, Food Safety, and Quality Manager at Angie’s Boomchickapop. In the latter position, he oversaw all the company’s policy, procedural, supplier and co-manufacturing areas. Dan assisted in building Angie’s from a 19-employee, one-shift company into a national brand with multiple production, warehousing, and distribution sites. He played an integral role in creating Angie’s SQF system and cultivating fruitful relationships with suppliers.
Bill Long brings his considerable manufacturing and management expertise to the FoodOps team. He is a veteran mechanical engineer, manager, and manufacturing process professional with over 35 years of experience. Bill served in a variety of positions during his 27-year career at 3M, in both engineering and management roles, including: Project and Process Engineer; Manufacturing Operations Manager for the Home Care Division; Global Manufacturing Director for the Construction and Home Improvement Markets Division; U.S. Supply Chain Operations Director; and Business Transformation Director. While at 3M, Bill established new manufacturing plants and oversaw manufacturing operations in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Mexico, and other countries. After retiring from 3M in 2016, Bill was engaged by Hed Cycling Products to set up their Enterprise Resource Planning system, working with both management and shop floor teams.
Lily Schimke is a self-motivated and driven food scientist with experience in product development, formulations, scale-ups, and quality projects. Lily went to South Dakota State University and graduated in 2020 with a Master of Science in Food Science. Her Masters thesis utilized advanced technology to develop equations in order to rapidly analyze the quality of wheat. At the university, Lily worked hands-on in an analytical food quality & development lab and is knowledgeable in the subject of food analysis. Additionally, Lily worked for a salad dressing company and used her knowledge of food chemistry to improve shelf stability, lower production cost, and produce clean label products. During her time in college, she competed as a NCAA D1 swimmer, which sparked her interest in the nutritional aspects of food. Lily has a special interest in functional foods—food that has been formulated to give the consumer additional benefits beyond basic nutrition.
Project Manger / Developer
Asa Bielenberg has a diverse background in food and engineering. He brings a technical approach to problem solving and draws on his experience in many sectors to implement creative and effective solutions. He is a key collaborator with our co-manufacturers, helping them utilize the appropriate equipment to execute our clients’ vision. There is always a way to increase rate, tighten a spec, or collect a key piece of data!
Asa held a product development role with Post Cereal, formulating snacks and cereals on many different platforms. He was part of an engineering team that designed, installed, commissioned, and supported >$25MM worth of capital equipment for PURIS – a plant-based protein manufacturer in Minnesota. Most recently, Asa spent over 3 years working in industrial automation where he designed, programmed, and installed control systems for the food, cosmetics, and manufacturing sectors.
When Asa is not working, he enjoys competitive home brewing, biking, cross country skiing, and the challenge of cooking a delicious vegan Thanksgiving!
Maintenance Reliability Consultant
Jason has 23 years experience in the maintenance field and 11 in the food manufacturing industry. He has worked in maintenance for several large companies including Schwans Global Supply Chain, Hormel, Post Consumer Brands, Bimbo Bakeries and General Mills. Jason has performed several new equipment installation projects and is very proficient at trouble shooting just about anything mechanical and electrical. Jason has certificates in blue print reading, schematic reading, general hydraulics, pneumatics, low voltage electronic components, general electronics and is an unlicensed registered electrician. Jason has held positions from entry level technician, maintenance engineer, maintenance lead to maintenance supervisor.
Kathy Schwartz, R.D.N, L.D.
Associate Project Manager & Operations Specialist
Melissa Floyd is a seasoned Project Manager & Operations Specialist with more than 15 years of experience in both the nonprofit and private sectors. Her manufacturing background includes scaling production through co-packing, production management, staffing, new product development, and procurement. She is adept at identifying, diagnosing, and resolving operational and logistics problems. Melissa is trained in Six Sigma Yellow Belt, DMAIC and Lean implementation initiatives. Melissa has extensive communication skills to coordinate across departments and connect with internal/external business partners.