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No Regrets: A Conversation with Production Planning/Scheduling Manager Jennifer Fey-Elsen

Jennifer Fey-Elsen wasn’t looking for a job this past winter when she was approached by a recruiter who noticed her resume on LinkedIn, but she soon found herself on the phone with Barry Christenson.  That cold-call conversation introduced her to the von Drehle culture, and as she met with more team members, Jennifer realized that she’d stumbled upon something truly unique.

“I honestly thought I would never leave my former employer,” she says, “but then I came to interview and every conversation just held up. I’ve never interviewed somewhere where they ‘walk the talk’ the way they do here at von Drehle.”

Living our values is what convinced Jennifer to take the job with von Drehle, and her first day as our Production Planning/Scheduling Manager was March 31.

Since then, Jennifer has been responsible for making sure all the converting lines are scheduled to meet the customer demand, sourcing the raw materials, and making sure we can run what we need to run. She describes her work as a link between manufacturing and sales and making sure both parties are happy.

A fantastic team helps Jennifer get the job done, including Hayley Ross and Regina Cappadona. “Haley is amazing and probably the sweetest person I’ve ever met,” says Jennifer, adding “She’s very thorough and does a fantastic job going above and beyond.” She glows about Regina too, who was recently hired by Jennifer out of customer service and has been with von Drehle since 2005: “Regina brings fantastic experience to the table and understands everything that needs to be handled in terms of making sure the customer gets their product on time.  I’m very excited for her to start in her new role soon.”

While Jennifer has done this work for many years and implemented MRP systems at several different companies, she’s still learning the ins and outs of how von Drehle does things. She describes her mentor, Alex Church, as “wicked smart and like Yoda.” “Alex made me feel so welcome right from day one, and it’s been a pleasure to work with and learn from him.” Alex started the MRP system implementation at von Drehle, and Jennifer is eagerly working with him to take over the reins so Alex can move on to his next position.

The people-first culture of von Drehle that first attracted Jennifer (a self-described “social butterfly”) manifested itself again during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home for her former employer was making her stir crazy, and she loves that here at von Drehle we brought everyone back to the office as soon as safety allowed. “That’s part of the culture — the fact that we interact so much,” she explains, “So much can get lost in translation in terms of emails and working virtually. Nothing will ever replace being face-to-face with folks, and I love the fact that they recognize that and that it’s important to von Drehle to have the work family be together safely.”

Jennifer and her daughter, Olivia

Microsoft Teams meetings connect us with our sites scattered across the country, and Jennifer relies on technology to help her stay connected to her daughter, Olivia. 20 years old and living far away in Idaho, Jennifer keeps close thanks to Snapchat and FaceTime. “My daughter is amazing,” she says, “All moms say that about their kids but she’s genuinely the coolest person I know. She’s my favorite person on the planet, and every single day she does something that makes me laugh.  She’s a bright young woman and I’m excited to see where life takes her.”

That love of connection extends to her work family too, and Jennifer’s favorite part of the job is being able to interact with lots of different departments every day. “In some jobs, you’re basically doing just one thing, but in my job, I get to talk with customer service, each of the manufacturing sites, quality and marketing. I touch a little bit of everything,” she says, adding “I’ve been in the tissue industry since 1998 and I’ve done just about every job you can do except for sales. This is by far my favorite one, and I have no regrets! I’m very grateful to be part of the von Drehle family.”