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Nancy Hartje, Culinex, Fargo, North Dakota

Twenty years in the industry!  Nancy started on the foodservice side of the business gaining knowledge and experience that she uses today.  She found her dream opportunity right out of college.

“I started in the industry when I was old enough to wait tables so I could have “all the fancy things” I needed in life, which, back then were Nike Air Max shoes and jeans from JCPenney’s.  Once I hit college, I continued to serve and also bartended a few nights a week. I came to Dakota Food Equipment (now Culinex) right out of college and haven’t looked back.

Nancy has a genuine appreciation for her role at Culinex and for the people she has the opportunity to work with on a daily basis. She is a team player with great respect for everyone’s role and contributions.  “I currently oversee our extremely talented purchasing department, run marketing operations and still manage to go out and sell to a few customers a couple days a month.  It’s a busy schedule; but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way!” says Hartje.

Mark Howes, president of Culinex, said, “Nancy came right out of college to join the Culinex team. Her love for this industry has taken shape. She has become a young leader within Culinex. Culinex is a small company, so many team members must wear several hats to make our success possible. Nancy’s dedication to Culinex is amazing, along with the high energy level she provides to our team. Congratulations Nancy for being selected to be an elite Featured SEFAPro.”

Nancy welcomes challenges, thrives on opportunities to learn, and values relationships. “I absolutely love the interactions I have on a day-to-day basis both within Culinex and outside of our organization.  Being a part of three departments that work so closely together gives me a great perspective on the markets that we serve and how to keep those markets satisfied.  I am surrounded by a group of  talented people that help me grow in my profession every day!  This industry continues to teach and challenge me to keep an open mind and always be forward-thinking.  Foodservice is an industry that is ever-changing and if you are not out in front of those changes, you have to work twice as hard to catch up,” says Hartje.

Nancy is very successful in the SEFAPro program. She embraces SEFA training with the same 100% dedication that she applies to everything she does. She enjoys and finds great value in both the training opportunities and the networking that come with the program.  “What I LOVE about the SEFAPro Program is that no matter your level of foodservice experience, you take LOADS of information away. The trainings are always well thought through and very well presented so that if you’re new to the industry, or a veteran you are engaged. The other benefit is that SEFA combines various experience levels within your group, so the new people are able to rely not only on the presenters; but their team alike. Advice to someone just starting out in the program would be to open up and embrace everything that feels uncomfortable!  It’s not fun to separate from your fellow co-workers; the more you can embrace the team you are put in, the more you will take away from the program. Take some time to prepare so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Write down questions you may have for vendors that you aren’t as familiar with and/or that you want to learn more about.  The SEFAPro program gives you all the tools you need to be a successful foodservice professional, you just have to dial in how to make those tools work for you and your position within your company!”

When asked about a current project she’s working on, and the challenges and opportunities that come with it  she answered,  “I would have to say inventory management.  Although this is an on-going process for any company, I have recently taken a deep dive into the software program we have in place to assist with our inventory management.  It’s been an intense learning curve to say the least; but the more I learn, the more excited I get!! Once we have that software dialed into how we want it to perform, the efficiencies within the Purchasing Department will increase which will allow more time for other projects!”

When we think about the happiness and success achieved in our life, we always remember the special people who have really taken the time to teach and inspire us.  “My parents taught me from a very young age that nothing comes easy and if you want it, you have to make your mind up and go get it.  I wouldn’t be anywhere near the person I am today without the guidance, strength, and humbleness I learned from them. Once my parents weren’t involved in my daily life, I found unwavering guidance from my college advisor Terry Kemmer. Terry challenged and pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of; he wouldn’t allow me to fail. The professional lessons he instilled in me have helped me advance in my career and have made me a better person. At Culinex, I’ve had the pleasure of working very closely with incredibly intelligent leaders like Kevin Bouma and Mark Howes.  Their knowledge and experience in the foodservice industry has been the backbone of my success.  Under their guidance I know my contributions to this company will be beneficial.”

In addition to the gratification she gets from her professional life, being a part of Culinex and this great industry, Nancy is very happy in her personal life. “I was lucky enough to find the love of my life a few years ago and we currently reside approximately 40 miles south of Fargo.  We have been living a life full of love and fun ever since we met. I am truly a blessed girl! During the summer months I enjoy golfing and gardening, spending time with family and friends, and just enjoying the outdoors! When the snow falls, and yes, I’m one of “those people” that hopes for lots of snow, I spend a fair amount of time snowmobiling throughout North Dakota and Minnesota.”

SEFA is proud to recognize Nancy Hartje as Featured SEFAPro.  Her dedication, loyalty and hard work are an asset to this industry and to the company she holds so dear.  She is grateful, kind and focused.  If you haven’t met her yet, you might want to make a point to say hello. Congratulations, Nancy!