Director of Innovation and Product Development

at Shearer's Foods
Location Massillon, OH
Date Posted June 7, 2020
Category Default
Job Type Full-time


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Shearer’s is a privately held producer, co-manufacturer and distributor of quality snack foods sold under the Shearer’s brand, and other private labels. As a matter of fact, Shearers is the number one producer of kettle cooked chips in the world! As the leader in North America, we private label and co-manufacture salty snacks and we are the second largest producer of cookies and crackers. We utilize our manufacturing expertise to serve as a strategic supplier to our partners, who are nationally recognized retail and restaurant brands. So, while you may not be familiar with our name, you likely eat the products we make on a regular basis. With exceptional competence in product development, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution, we continue to realize significant growth in each segment of our business. Headquartered in Massillon, Ohio, we have over 5,000 associates in 11 state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution sites in North America. You can visit our website at .

Director of Innovation & Product Development

Located at our Corporate Headquarters in Massillon, OH

At Shearer’s, we provide the safest environment possible for our employees by providing proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), frequent and thorough sanitation practices, social distancing, daily temperature checks, as well as virtual interviewing options.  Safety is our absolute priority.

 The Director, Innovation & Product Development leads Shearer’s successful new product development initiatives as a member of the Product Life Cycle & Innovation team.  This role is responsible for leading the dynamic and fast growing demands of a key value add function and core capability for Shearer’s business.

This role leads the new food product Development Stage within Shearer’s Stage Gate Product Life Cycle Core Process and is accountable for improving and sustaining successful execution of new product development sub processes and documents.

The Director, Innovation & Product Development leads the food product development team of salaried Food Technology professionals and hourly Samples/Lab technicians.  This role will lead talent and organizational development initiatives to ensure long term high performance for the Innovation & Product Development team.

This position works extensively with cross-functional and supporting departments including: Technical Services, QA, Planning, Procurement, Supply Chain, Finance, Category Management & Customer Marketing, and, Commercialization Management.

Additional roles and responsibilities include identifying, vetting, and developing supplier and other external partnerships and championing direct customer technical product development relationships.

As a Director, this role will drive initiatives to enhance Shearer’s culture and achieve our mission.

 Your seat at the table

  • Effectively lead Shearer’s Innovation and Product Development team and prioritize and execute projects.
  • Direct new product ideas from inception through to food solution ensuring adherence to Shearer’s stage gate process approach to vet, validate and launch innovation. Ensure projects launch on time and on budget.
  • Create new product forms (e.g. bases) and flavors (e.g. seasonings) and conduct proof of concept and benchtop work.
  • Build supplier partnerships by working in conjunction with Procurement and Quality to leverage and deliver quality ingredients and finished products that meet on-trend customer needs.
  • Collaborate and partner with external suppliers to source resources, solve challenges and contribute to Shearer’s commitment to ongoing product innovation and renovation.
  • Identify opportunities for growth, and initiate project work to present new ideas to customers. Engage and consult with leadership including Shearer’s Innovation Steering Team to review innovation opportunities and secure alignment and resource support to execute.
  • Complete and review nutrition and ingredient information for new products working in conjunction with Shearer’s Regulatory team.
  • Provide technical product support to sales team with regards to ingredients, NLEA, marketing claims and food business regulatory issues.
  • Partner with Customer Marketing team to craft, develop and refine new processes, programs, and platforms to gain consumer insights and drive product development ideation and effectively execute Shearer’s go-to-market process.
  • Lead Shearer’s sensory capabilities and design and execute value add capabilities including consumer panels and competitive cutting evaluations. Develop and conduct Shearer’s internal sensory panels and capabilities.  Direct external panel work and expert panel review work.
  • Direct, manage, and continuously improve accurate and effective research and development of new formulations, seasoning and raw material evaluations.
  • Ensure new products are in compliance with Shearer’s Global Food Safety Initiative SQF Level 3 commitment to excellence. Track and manage the development of new and proposed products’ technical ingredient and raw material specifications including key quality assurance components of allergens, nutritional information, shelf life and more.
  • Work with QA and Sanitation to communicate allergens or other food safety and nutritional concerns to ensure accurate new product trials and product launches.
  • Design, direct and lead continuous improvement efforts including initiatives that deliver cost savings without impact to quality.
  • Build a working knowledge of all production lines and the processes involved in product manufacturing. Understand the impact of these processes on the finished product with respect to nutritional composition and regulatory compliance.
  • Foster, coach and develop teamwork, encourage continuous learning and model positive leadership across the organization.
  • Identify, establish and set priorities against planned objectives to realize annual Budget objectives and apply Shearer’s Commercial strategy.
  • Be accountable for ensuring 100% accurate new food product development and that all specifications and product requirements are met prior to commissioning.
  • Support Shearer’s Category Leadership Platform objectives with respect to food base and flavor innovation and renovation. For example, create and maintain national brand equivalent (NBE) private label products that score at parity or above national brands.
  • Partner with Sales and Customer Marketing teams in the creation and continuous improvement of new food concept positioning materials, sales presentation materials, and communicating Shearer’s food product manufacturing capabilities.
  • Engage with sales and category management to design, develop and execute new food product opportunities and make assortment recommendations to help achieve customer goals and realize internal revenue and EBITDA objectives.
  • Lead food product change process improvement.
  • Lead and direct communications between customers and Shearer’s internal support teams with regards to Food Technology.
  • Serve as the go-to subject matter expert for Food Technology and facilitate the communication of food product technical specifications across internal and external partners.
  • Partner with Shearer’s Technical Services team to plan, roll out, and execute packaging solutions for new food in partnership with Commercialization Management.
  • Partner with cross functional executives to identify new food capabilities and growth possibilities across existing lines and relevant strategic new production capabilities.
  • Drive urgency and ownership to ensure all new food development projects are commercialized on time, on target and on budget while delighting Shearer’s customer account partners.
  • Work effectively with external supplier and other third parties to properly resource new product development projects, overcome challenges and deliver solutions on time and on budget.
  • Contribute to efforts to simplify, standardize and rationalize food products to drive efficient production and reduce complexity.
  • Identify, pursue, and execute opportunities for food renovation to achieve cost savings and improve EBITDA.

 What you bring to the table

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science or related field or equivalent in experience
  • Advanced degrees in Food Science or related field a plus
  • 6 years of food industry experience in consumer food product development and/or innovation platforms including new formulation design
  • Expertise using Genesis or similar ingredient and nutritional fact panel creation tool
  • Demonstrated capability in evaluating Regulatory and Marketing packaging claims
  • Experience working within a stage or phase gate new product development process
  • Private Label and Contract Manufacturing experience a plus
  • Ability to manage both internal and external teammates and to adapt and manage through fast paced change
  • Strong business acumen and ability to think strategically for long term growth
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office software suite with demonstrated ability to organize, track, and maintain complex technical details
  • Experience with customer and consumer research a plus
  • Travel up to 25% to production plants, customers, suppliers and other business needs
  • Strong written and verbal skills and proven people and project leadership capabilities are required
  • Ability to manage >$1MM department on budget

We Offer a Feast of Benefits

Medical, Dental, Vision, Life, Flexible Spending Account, Retirement Savings Plan with Match, Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability, Group Critical Accident Insurance, Group Critical Illness Insurance, Employee Assistance Plan and numerous opportunities to volunteer in the communities in which we operate.

You will be considered for employment in our inclusive workplace

Because at Shearer’s, we are committed to providing equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, amnesty, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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