INDIANAPOLIS, IND. — At the American Bakers Association (A.B.A.)’s Technical Conference, being held Oct. 28-31 in Indianapolis, the association named Brittany Tomlin, snacks process engineer, Kellogg Co., the recipient of the Vander Heide Award and Robert Commandant, production supervisor, Weston Foods, Colonial Cookies Division, as the Phelps Award recipient for the 2017.
“On behalf of the American Bakers Association, I congratulate Brittany and Robert on achieving bakery manufacturing excellence through education,” said A.B.A. president and chief executive officer Robb MacKie. “These two dedicated individuals have set the example for the industry by furthering and strengthening their technical skills to advance their careers, their teams and their companies.”
Since 1940, the Vander Heide Award has been presented every year at the Technical Conference to the Cookie & Cracker Academy’s Cookie & Cracker Manufacturing Course graduate who receives the highest grade point average (g.p.a.) for the graduating year. Ms. Tomlin earned a 96.9 g.p.a.
Stu Vander Heide presented the award to Ms. Tomlin, who accepted it with her supervisor, Shelley Crawford, senior process engineer, Global Snacks, Kellogg Co.
Ms. Tomlin earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Florida in biological and food engineering before joining Kellogg Co. in 2012 as a food technologist, supporting the cookies and on-the-go innovation group. As a food technologist, Ms. Tomlin focused on process optimization, product scale-up and test plan development. In 2015, she transitioned to the global engineering group as a process engineer supporting the crackers business.
David Van Laar, A.B.A. senior adviser, reflected on the Future Farmers of America, who also were attending a conference in Indianapolis at the time. He drew a parallel to these award winners as well as students and young professionals attending the Technical Conference.
“We need to instill a passion in these young people because we will still need bakers in the future as we progress as an industry,” Mr. Van Laar said, crediting the A.B.A. education committee for its commitment not only to providing tools such as the Cookie & Cracker Academy but also working to bring awareness of the baking industry to students at the college and high school levels.
The Phelps Award is presented to the graduating student with the second highest grade point average in the course. Mr. Commandant completed the course with a 96.7 g.p.a.
“Robert is a highly motivated production supervisor at Weston Foods Canada with more than nine years’ experience. He encourages a conscientious effort to work as a team and diagnoses production needs to solve problems quickly and efficiently,” said Tim Brewer, Weston Foods Canada production manager and Mr. Commandant’s supervisor. “As such, Robert is always willing to offer his knowledge to team members, all the while expanding his own education and exceeding our expectations.”
Mr. Commandant is a production supervisor at Weston Foods Canada and has been with Colonial for 10 years. Both Mr. Commandant and Mr. Brewer apologized for not being able to attend the conference. Mr. Commandant said he looks forward to implementing what he has learned from the course into his day-to-day-production, and Mr. Brewer expressed appreciation for the award.
The Phelps Award was presented for the first time at last year’s Technical Conference and was established in honor of the course’s dedicated pioneer of the Correspondence Course — Kathy Kinter Phelps. The awards are typically kept as surprises to the honorees until they are unveiled at the Technical Conference.
“I hope for all of you coming up in your careers in this industry that someday your superiors will someday say these things about you,” Mr. Van Laar said to attendees during the presentation of the awards.