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#1 GMO

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 08:12 AM

I am now the most senior Technical person in my (small) company and I'm coming across severe lack of knowledge from the operations, finance and commercial senior members of staff.  I cannot make the MD and his team understand  that good standards aren't a waste of time.  I can't make them understand that having good technical standards is actually a way to differentiate your company and so be better than the competitors.  They don't understand about 3rd party or retailer compliance.  We were close to a B in BRC at one site and close to failing a retailer audit at another and they think it's ok because we didn't fail.

 

Recently I was asked to lie to a customer which I refused to do.

 

I understand that all companies, especially SME have their grey areas and I cannot for personal reasons walk out of this job but I would dearly, dearly love to right now.  I am beyond frustration.

 

So I have to influence and work from within.  Any top tips or things which have worked for you?  I feel like a lone voice of reason in a sea full of awfulness right now.


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#2 QAGB

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 12:10 PM

I am now the most senior Technical person in my (small) company and I'm coming across severe lack of knowledge from the operations, finance and commercial senior members of staff.  I cannot make the MD and his team understand  that good standards aren't a waste of time.  I can't make them understand that having good technical standards is actually a way to differentiate your company and so be better than the competitors.  They don't understand about 3rd party or retailer compliance.  We were close to a B in BRC at one site and close to failing a retailer audit at another and they think it's ok because we didn't fail.

 

Recently I was asked to lie to a customer which I refused to do.

 

I understand that all companies, especially SME have their grey areas and I cannot for personal reasons walk out of this job but I would dearly, dearly love to right now.  I am beyond frustration.

 

So I have to influence and work from within.  Any top tips or things which have worked for you?  I feel like a lone voice of reason in a sea full of awfulness right now.

 

 

Hi GMO,

 

You are not alone in your sea. A number of us, while many are content with our positions, experience the same situation you are in right now (to various degrees).

 

The best thing you can do is to continue to influence and work from within, as you said. You have to take small steps to gain ground. When I first started out, there was a massive resistance to change "because we always did it that way". Every time a new procedure or policy was put in place, there was always an argument to be had about it. We had to learn the hard way a couple of times. One of the best things you can do is make sure your top management is with you for closing meetings of customer and 3rd party audits. Auditors don't have to mince words, and they'll usually say what they think is wrong. A good auditor can pretty much detect a lack of senior management commitment and will tell you as much. Many companies have a lack in that area, because people want to get product out the door, and they think QA is the inhibitor (yes, it can be sometimes -- usually for good reason).

 

If an auditor ever makes a comment to you about something, and they haven't written it down, ask them to PLEASE put it in the report. People on the inside don't always listen to QA, but if an auditor says it, management will respond to it faster. If auditors say it enough times, it sort of puts the spotlight on weak areas and people start trying to change. Customer audits are just as important as GFSI, because your customers actually come in and see what they are getting. Your company procedures, people, site standards, etc. are a reflection of the end product. If your customer comes in and almost fails you, your chances of continuing to be their supplier diminish greatly.

 

Distribute QA topics like newsworthy recalls. Submit information with it to show why it is important to do everything you can to make proper product; and explain that it takes just one oversight to end up in a recall. Explain QA and production work hand-in-hand and not against each other. I've had to tell people  I'm not here to be "the police", but I am here to do my job and make it as painless as I can to keep us on the right track.

 

We've all had our moments, days, weeks, months.... hang in there, and plug away one bit at a time.

 

 

QAGB


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#3 GMO

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 02:07 PM

Hi GMO,

 

You are not alone in your sea. A number of us, while many are content with our positions, experience the same situation you are in right now (to various degrees).

 

The best thing you can do is to continue to influence and work from within, as you said. You have to take small steps to gain ground. When I first started out, there was a massive resistance to change "because we always did it that way". Every time a new procedure or policy was put in place, there was always an argument to be had about it. We had to learn the hard way a couple of times. One of the best things you can do is make sure your top management is with you for closing meetings of customer and 3rd party audits. Auditors don't have to mince words, and they'll usually say what they think is wrong. A good auditor can pretty much detect a lack of senior management commitment and will tell you as much. Many companies have a lack in that area, because people want to get product out the door, and they think QA is the inhibitor (yes, it can be sometimes -- usually for good reason).

 

If an auditor ever makes a comment to you about something, and they haven't written it down, ask them to PLEASE put it in the report. People on the inside don't always listen to QA, but if an auditor says it, management will respond to it faster. If auditors say it enough times, it sort of puts the spotlight on weak areas and people start trying to change. Customer audits are just as important as GFSI, because your customers actually come in and see what they are getting. Your company procedures, people, site standards, etc. are a reflection of the end product. If your customer comes in and almost fails you, your chances of continuing to be their supplier diminish greatly.

 

Distribute QA topics like newsworthy recalls. Submit information with it to show why it is important to do everything you can to make proper product; and explain that it takes just one oversight to end up in a recall. Explain QA and production work hand-in-hand and not against each other. I've had to tell people  I'm not here to be "the police", but I am here to do my job and make it as painless as I can to keep us on the right track.

 

We've all had our moments, days, weeks, months.... hang in there, and plug away one bit at a time.

 

 

QAGB

 

Thank you for your kind response.  It's an odd place to be in to almost want worse external audit reports to highlight what I've been saying is true but it's something I've used in the past. 


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#4 bbekbekk

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 04:41 PM

Thank you for your kind response.  It's an odd place to be in to almost want worse external audit reports to highlight what I've been saying is true but it's something I've used in the past. 

I feel that way at the moment... where I work, everyone seems to be so "oh it's okay" about everything. I've gone through this audit checklist from head to toe and there are so many things we need to fix and change. We are supposed to be applying for an audit in May, and I feel they're going to get a huge wake-up call and actually start buying the items I've listed that we need, start employing the help we need, and start actually paying attention once they get the auditor's write up. 


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#5 QAGB

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 04:51 PM

I feel that way at the moment... where I work, everyone seems to be so "oh it's okay" about everything. I've gone through this audit checklist from head to toe and there are so many things we need to fix and change. We are supposed to be applying for an audit in May, and I feel they're going to get a huge wake-up call and actually start buying the items I've listed that we need, start employing the help we need, and start actually paying attention once they get the auditor's write up. 

 

Hi Bbekbekk,

 

Have you considered getting a consultant prior to your audit, or have you done already gone through the process? Sometimes they can help drive change too.

 

Once we got a consultant for our initial GFSI audit, and the consultant told us what we needed to do in the Gap Audit, people started running to get it done. It's a shame that people within our own companies won't listen to us (we must not know anything :blink: ), but they'll listen if someone else tells them to do the same thing.

 

QAGB

 

Either people listen and learn, or learn the hard way and have to deal with it later.


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#6 Simon

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 04:51 PM

Hi GMO, unfortunately it's very difficult for some people to envisage what could happen that never has happened previously. There are always "seemingly" more important demands here and now.  The least they can do then is trust and support you to do what is necessary and what they pay you for. 

 

You may want to send them the PCA case for the ultimate lack of Senior Management Commitment.

 

Regards,
Simon


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#7 bbekbekk

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 06:24 PM

Hi Bbekbekk,

 

Have you considered getting a consultant prior to your audit, or have you done already gone through the process? Sometimes they can help drive change too.

 

Once we got a consultant for our initial GFSI audit, and the consultant told us what we needed to do in the Gap Audit, people started running to get it done. It's a shame that people within our own companies won't listen to us (we must not know anything :blink: ), but they'll listen if someone else tells them to do the same thing.

 

QAGB

 

Either people listen and learn, or learn the hard way and have to deal with it later.

 

That would be fantastic, but they won't spend the money.. most of the issues/roadblocks seem to be about purchasing required items / hiring the right employees to get a good sanitation system going. I'm sure it'll all come into place once they get a giant wakeup call lol. 


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#8 Sheilag

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 06:35 PM

I feel that way at the moment... where I work, everyone seems to be so "oh it's okay" about everything. I've gone through this audit checklist from head to toe and there are so many things we need to fix and change. We are supposed to be applying for an audit in May, and I feel they're going to get a huge wake-up call and actually start buying the items I've listed that we need, start employing the help we need, and start actually paying attention once they get the auditor's write up. 

I feel like you today, I have an inspection on Tuesday that plant wise we are not ready nor clean enough due to fact that we laid off half of the total personnel at the plant.  Most being production personnel so staff is working on the floor and cleaning has taken a step back. So we finished at noon today and plant manager sent people home instead of letting them address these neglected areas.  


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#9 brianweber

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 06:35 PM

I agree with Simon. Prior to leaving my last job I went into a HACCP meeting and had printed out the sentances that the PCA folks had gotten in prison. It helped a little!


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Brian


#10 bbekbekk

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 06:50 PM

Hi GMO, unfortunately it's very difficult for some people to envisage what could happen that never has happened previously. There are always "seemingly" more important demands here and now.  The least they can do then is trust and support you to do what is necessary and what they pay you for. 

 

You may want to send them the PCA case for the ultimate lack of Senior Management Commitment.

 

Regards,
Simon

That was a great read  :eek_yello:

 

 

I feel like you today, I have an inspection on Tuesday that plant wise we are not ready nor clean enough due to fact that we laid off half of the total personnel at the plant.  Most being production personnel so staff is working on the floor and cleaning has taken a step back. So we finished at noon today and plant manager sent people home instead of letting them address these neglected areas.  

Oh good luck!  I think our managers must be brothers *eyeroll* hehe. I've requested a few times at possibly looking into an overnight sanitation crew, specialists who actually know what to do, and they just say "Oh Friday's aren't usually busy, the floor can take care of it"... The floor workers are all extremely busy and we're in our busiest part of the year. They usually push 10 hour days/5 days a week, definitely no downtime that these managers think they do. 


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#11 GMO

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 09:01 PM

Hi GMO, unfortunately it's very difficult for some people to envisage what could happen that never has happened previously. There are always "seemingly" more important demands here and now.  The least they can do then is trust and support you to do what is necessary and what they pay you for. 

 

You may want to send them the PCA case for the ultimate lack of Senior Management Commitment.

 

Regards,
Simon

Thank you I'm going to have a read...


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#12 Christopher.Fasching

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 08:26 PM

Hi GMO, unfortunately it's very difficult for some people to envisage what could happen that never has happened previously. There are always "seemingly" more important demands here and now.  The least they can do then is trust and support you to do what is necessary and what they pay you for. 

 

You may want to send them the PCA case for the ultimate lack of Senior Management Commitment.

 

Regards,
Simon

I felt the same way when I started at a small produce company.  There were a lot of gaps in nearly all of the safety/regulatory areas.  My attempt to clean it up and implement an effective system was heavily resisted at all levels.  Fortunately the owner understood the implications of a poor system and I was able to push the new programs through.  Things like the case mentioned above, the Park Doctrine and criminal liability under FSMA helped me :-)

 

http://www.hpm.com/pdf/FLEDERPARK.PDF


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#13 clover

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 06:05 AM

I am now the most senior Technical person in my (small) company and I'm coming across severe lack of knowledge from the operations, finance and commercial senior members of staff.  I cannot make the MD and his team understand  that good standards aren't a waste of time.  I can't make them understand that having good technical standards is actually a way to differentiate your company and so be better than the competitors.  They don't understand about 3rd party or retailer compliance.  We were close to a B in BRC at one site and close to failing a retailer audit at another and they think it's ok because we didn't fail.

 

Recently I was asked to lie to a customer which I refused to do.

 

I understand that all companies, especially SME have their grey areas and I cannot for personal reasons walk out of this job but I would dearly, dearly love to right now.  I am beyond frustration.

 

So I have to influence and work from within.  Any top tips or things which have worked for you?  I feel like a lone voice of reason in a sea full of awfulness right now.

 

Hi GMO, I could related with what you said. I used to work in SME with the same problem and the breaking point was when I had to lie about expired products and do unethical stuff. I couldn't bring myself to do it and I don't want to be held responsible should someone eat and get food poisoning hence, I quit my job. My main challenge is always to get the management to understand the importance of it or at least try seeing things from a point of food safety. Cutting corners is not acceptable but unfortunately, it still happens. 


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#14 Lanser

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 02:33 PM

I have seen the same in varying degrees across different sizes of company from site level up to board, quite frustrating and depressing at times.

 

 I have used this presentation as a goad to help people understand where the costs lie and just after giving one presentation had a recall from Tescos which stung the pocket rather and made that particular company sit up and listen.

 

Attached Files


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#15 Kellio

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 04:02 PM

Dear GMO,

 

I feel your pain and the best thing you can do is to do what is right. My advise to you is not to approve anything that is against the law or lie to customers for the sake of making money. I am pretty sure in England laws are pretty clear.  As mentioned in one of the post, use the Peanut of America as an example.  This is a prime example of a Government caught not enforcing the law while people were dying and a company operating negligently, violating, and compromising food safety.  Even a Certifying Body was in trouble for not performing An Audit the way was supposed to be done as a Result of the FDA Investigation.

 

For example, I am a non QA Person and I have a Vice President of QA, QA Manager, Plant Manager, and Vice President of Manufacturing resisting the coming changes and caught in the past where things were way different back then. They live for making short cuts and reacting to problems instead of preventing them.  The problem is not they do want to do it, the problem is they do not understand it and how they say in Texas "You can take the Horse to the pond to drink water but, you can not force the Horse to drink water."

 

Only the Transportation Department has approached me to help then to Gain compliance for Food Safety Transportation.

 

Do your best possible job but, when the Cons out weights the Pros, that is the signal to reassess your personal goals.

 

I hope this helps.


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#16 GMO

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 10:57 AM

Although EU and UK law is strict, personal prosecutions are unheard of as far as I'm aware.  Does anyone know of any examples in the EU where directors were jailed for food safety violations?


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#17 BrummyJim

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 02:47 PM

Restaurant owners - yes.

http://www.thenorthe...s_in_20_years_/

http://www.dailymail...-poisoning.html

http://www.foodsafet...s/#.Vz8i2_krIdU

 

Directors of food manufacturing companies - not found


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#18 Charles.C

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 04:15 PM

Hi GMO,

 

Wales, 2005

 

http://news.bbc.co.u...ast/6983113.stm


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#19 GMO

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Posted 31 May 2016 - 08:47 AM

It's always the small guy who gets jailed in the UK though.  Why didn't some of the Cadbury's management face personal action for example?


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#20 clover

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Posted 01 June 2016 - 02:09 AM

It's always the small guy who gets jailed in the UK though.  Why didn't some of the Cadbury's management face personal action for example?

Money talk, money walks.


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#21 GMO

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Posted 01 June 2016 - 09:57 AM

Money talk, money walks.

 

The US is surely (normally) the most common example of this though?  Yet the big cheeses get jailed there...


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#22 Haapsalu

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 10:16 PM

I am now the most senior Technical person in my (small) company and I'm coming across severe lack of knowledge from the operations, finance and commercial senior members of staff.  I cannot make the MD and his team understand  that good standards aren't a waste of time.  I can't make them understand that having good technical standards is actually a way to differentiate your company and so be better than the competitors.  They don't understand about 3rd party or retailer compliance.  We were close to a B in BRC at one site and close to failing a retailer audit at another and they think it's ok because we didn't fail.
 
Recently I was asked to lie to a customer which I refused to do.
 
I understand that all companies, especially SME have their grey areas and I cannot for personal reasons walk out of this job but I would dearly, dearly love to right now.  I am beyond frustration.
 
So I have to influence and work from within.  Any top tips or things which have worked for you?  I feel like a lone voice of reason in a sea full of awfulness right now.


Hi all,

I'm having exactly the same issues.

I joined a company as technical lead to drive, ultimately deliver change and bring them upto scratch with multiple retailer standards.

Having re-written the entire (previously substandard) food safety and quality system, when trying to implement things all I constantly face is resistance. What really gets my goat is most of the resistance originates from the lower echelons of my team inflamed by operational input.

Every meeting turns into a mud slinging exercise and there's very little commitment or interest.

What really exacerbates the situation is that I report to the operations manager who undermines me using members of my own team.

Does anyone have any advice?


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#23 Caglar

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 08:49 AM

I have experienced similar problems in the past and tried few things to get the seniors on board.

What I found most effective was if I am aware of a certain problem that needs to be improved but there is a lack of something (motivation, money, man power etc. kind of excuses) 

     1. Every chance I get, I mention how necessary it is to do this and if we don't do it auditor may pick this up and it can lead to lower grades in audits (because even though they lack commitment, most senior managers care if the audit result is bad). 

     2. During 2nd and 3rd party audits I kindly introduce the problem to auditor and ask him to include in his non conformance report, whether as an observation or as a non-conformance and make sure the senior managers are in closing meeting so they can hear from the auditor what I have been warning about.

 

This usually works or accelerates the solution.

 

However when it comes to implementing changes in FSMS I do it a little bit differently. Usually the foreman or experienced employees resist the changes which ends up production manager backing them. Because from their point of view every change I want to implement slows down the production. So before introducing the change I spend extra time on the floor with the employees who are likely to oppose the change and try to find a middle way. Usually I start by introducing the problem to them, and ask them what they would do to solve it, what changes they would implement to solve it. Very often they come up with very similar solutions if not the same one I thought of. It had happened that they came up with far better solutions than I could think of so it is beneficial for me to do this exercise anyway. After consulting with few of them and get their opinions on how to implement a change I wait for a chance to discuss this together. Sometimes I go in the coffee room during their break and start the discussion, let them discuss between them pros and cons of their solution while introducing mine. It is important to do this in a relaxed environment, in a friendly way. It is a bit of psychological game.

 

After all this;

1. if what I wanted to change is similar to what they come up with I go ahead and introduce the change. It is their idea not mine. So there will be minimal resistance.

2. if their ideas are far away from the solution, then I try to change the procedure in a way to include some suggestions from them so that they will feel part of the change and resist less.

 

I think as a general rule it is a very good idea to spend more time on the floor to interact with experienced employees to get a feedback from them also to influence them. If they feel they are important part of the FSMS they will tend to own it more. 

 

Note: I always worked in a small scale companies (45-100 people) I am sure it would be different in much larger companies.     


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#24 GMO

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 11:45 AM

Hi All,

 

I thought I should post an update.  Things have very much improved and I wanted to share how.

 

1.  I listened.

 

My initial response to the criticisms I got were they were uncalled for, unfair and unjust.  Some of them were but looking back now, I can see my approach was pretty sh1tty.  I was trying to work against people rather than with them (even though I felt like at the time this wasn't true.)

 

2.  I listened some more.

 

When we have an incident now, rather than closing down discussion, I now encourage it, even if inside I'm knowing that we should take a hard line on the product and it has to be rejected.  This at least then gives the appearance that I am taking opinions on board before coming to a conclusion.  In reality we all often know what arguments we're going to get in response ("it costs too much money" etc) and know they never trump food safety but still giving the appearance of considering every option makes the pill a less bitter one to swallow.

 

3.  I encouraged my team to work cross functionally and lead by example

 

Functional silos drive conflict.  I now ask for feedback from key (vocal) members of staff and even if it's harder to take, it's also harder for the backbiting to go on behind you when you've asked people for feedback.  It also shows emotional maturity.

 

4.  I meet people part way when I can.

 

Sometimes you have to let a grey area decision go and keep your powder dry for when it's a true howler you have to dig your heels in about.

 

5.  I celebrate success.

 

I've always done this but I do it more now.  Every time I see good team working cross functionally or something goes well I praise the teams outside my own.  Again it shows maturity and banks you some brownie points for when you need to call in a favour.

 

 

Am I happy?  Not ecstatic but I'm certainly in a better place than a year ago.  Where I was is exactly where I've been in the past and left the job.  Don't get me wrong, don't ever allow yourself to be talked into doing something which is illegal etc but I have recognised that my boss was right.  At least part of the problem was me.


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#25 RMAV

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  • United States
    United States
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:USA - Midwest
  • Interests:QA, Micro, Sanitation;
    Meats, Juice, Condiments;
    SQF, Audit, and aviation

Posted 03 July 2017 - 12:25 PM

Congrats, GMO!  This is very encouraging to me as well as other members I am sure.


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