Jobs at Alumni Ventures Portfolio Companies


Director, Plant Operations



This job is no longer accepting applications

See open jobs at Thistle.
Vacaville, CA, USA
Posted on Saturday, January 13, 2024
Thistle was founded in 2013 with a mission to make it easy to get and stay healthy while improving the sustainability of our food system. We deliver delicious, ready-to-eat plant-forward meals, snacks, and cold press juices to our customers’ doorsteps to empower our customers to improve personal and planetary health by eating more plants. To date we’ve delivered over 20 million nourishing meals to customers across the West and East Coast and we’re just getting started! The San Francisco Business Times named us one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Bay Area in 2023, and Inc. awarded us Best in Business in 2022 among companies that “go above and beyond” in both food and sustainability sectors.
Reporting directly to the SVP, Manufacturing & Logistics, the Director, Plant Operations primary responsibilities include the daily management and coordination of plant operations while ensuring profitability of operations and compliance with all labor, safety, environmental and corporate policies and regulations. This position oversees all plant operations-related activities: food prep, cooking, production (plate and pack operations), warehouse, and sanitation. You will be responsible for product quality, labor efficiency, ingredient costs, food safety, workplace safety, regulatory compliance, and employee development. Thistle is vertically integrated in its manufacturing and last mile operations, and is rapidly expanding its footprint across the US. This role will play a critical role in building the future of the network and business.
We are looking for a proven leader with deep operational experience in food manufacturing at scale. You should be data- and process-driven, able to thrive in a fast-paced, dynamic environment, and an empathetic servant leader with experience building and scaling large teams and bringing operations to the highest levels of food safety, employee safety, and operational efficiency. This role is a key link between our team on the ground and company leadership, providing steadfast and motivating leadership to our front-line employees while ensuring efficient communications between plant departments, cross-functional partners, and the executive team.
This is not a desk job - we are looking for hands-on candidates who enjoy getting in the trenches with the team and understanding the challenges they face, identifying opportunities, and working to thoroughly oversee the implementation of new practices and initiatives. If you are results-driven, people-focused, and supportive in your approach to operations, this role offers the opportunity to build a future for yourself and make a tremendous impact.
This role is based in Vacaville, CA.


  • Work with executive leadership to devise the annual plan and budget based on company goals and objectives
  • Define OKRs and strategic plan for key initiatives, including the setting of meaningful metrics (COGS drivers, efficiency, waste, concessions performance, etc.) for reporting, meeting operational and financial goals, and communicating goals and progress against them to the team
  • Help define and lead the execution of facilities improvement projects, including build outs, equipment automation, future growth, and process automation
  • Analyze and control plant expenditures to ensure conformity with budgetary requirements and P&L
  • Ensure site compliance to all labor, safety, and environmental regulations
  • Work with R&D, product, engineering, and marketing to develop new product launch strategies


  • Lead, supervise and monitor the execution of all plant production activities, including receiving, prep, cook, plate, pack, and warehouse operations, to ensure the safe and efficient operation of people, equipment, and facilities
  • Rigorously measure operational metrics and KPIs and build a data-driven culture of high performance, accountability, quality, and food/workplace safety in operations
  • Ensure effective preventive maintenance and repair of all material handling systems and equipment to minimize downtime
  • Analyze problems in the production chain, identify their root cause, and establish procedures to reduce or eliminate them
  • Provide support to internal and external audits; assist the QA Director in ensuring proper team member training, compliance, and enforcement of all company policies including food safety, GMPs, SOPs, SSOPs, HACCP, and all local, state, and federal laws
  • Ensure compliance with Company policies, as well as all Federal, State, and Local Employment laws and OSHA regulations


  • Lead a diverse supervisory and management team, creating top down transparency, alignment and accountability by regularly sharing goals, vision, and progress, holding appropriate trainings, communicating clear objectives and expectations, and providing appropriate coaching, mentorship and feedback along the way
  • Foster a culture of inclusion, high performance, accountability, and safety; ensure appropriate team recognition, and support learning opportunities for all employees by modeling behavior in line with company Core Values
  • Ensure all direct reports and entire plant management team is held to high expectations for driving employee engagement and retention, ensuring great people management cascades down to all levels of leadership
  • Participate in regular reviews of organizational structure and headcount planning, and lead performance, talent and compensation review processes for plant teams
  • In partnership with QA and People Operations team, ensure sufficient training programs are in place for all new and existing employees
  • In partnership with People Operations team, ensure regular monitoring of key people-related metrics such as turnover and retention, keep key stakeholders informed, and allow this data to inform decisions around relevant policies, programs and practices


  • Bachelor's Degree in an applicable discipline preferred (i.e. Business, Industrial Management, Engineering, Food Science, Management, Operations)
  • 10+ years in manufacturing operations, with 7+ years or more in food manufacturing (preferably fresh / perishables)
  • 7+ years of people/team management experience, with demonstrated experience leading large teams (200+)
  • A proven track record of building new systems and scaling for rapid growth, including making sure the right people are in the right seats, the right processes and trainings are in place, and the right equipment and tools have landed
  • Excellent planning and organizational skills, with the ability to balance production and maintenance needs
  • Previous experience/strong understanding of budgeting/expense management with a basic understanding of financial and accounting practices
  • Previous experience/broad understanding of safety systems and enforcement of safety rules and policies
  • Ability to set, work towards, and achieve aggressive COGS drivers and KPI goals
  • Proven track record of continuous improvement successes and efficiencies, familiar with lean manufacturing principles including 5-S, Kaizen, Six Sigma, and Root Cause Analysis
  • Tech savviness; comfort with data analysis and proficiency in Excel / Google Sheets
  • Strong knowledge of OSHA/HACCP/GMP/SSOP/FDA/3rd party GSF/Food Safety with experience in the SQF or BRC certification journey
We are mission-driven and share a growth mindset. We let our values guide the way we approach crafting our healthy products, solving problems, and working collaboratively together. As a Thistler, you'll help transform the health of people and the planet by living our core values every day.
Be Human: We’re always willing to learn and aim to empower the people around us.
Think Bigger: We’re here to do more today than we did yesterday, and we figure it out together.
Build the Future: We tackle every day with the positive attitude of someone who can see the future and knows how bright it is.
Make a Lot with a Little: We get creative and look for ways our resources can take us as far as possible.
Lead with Purpose: We use our mission to guide our decisions and give our work meaning.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential values at Thistle. We know we do our best and most impactful work when we feel we are represented and belong. We're proud to actively recruit and hire talented people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. We do not discriminate based on race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.

This job is no longer accepting applications

See open jobs at Thistle.