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Alumnus Peter Kratz Picks the Right Answers in Juicy Markets
November 21, 2012
By Steve Kaelble
Peter Kratz has been called on by big-name companies like
Procter & Gamble and Pepperidge Farm to improve and manage
production processes. But it was a civil
engineering degree that Kratz had in hand when he left
Rose-Hulman in 1976.
According to Kratz, the most important skills he picked up
went beyond engineering: "Rose-Hulman teaches about how to solve
problems and think logically, and I have used that my whole career-
trying to understand processes and make them better."
Kratz put that learning to use in management roles from the
start, overseeing processes and people in Procter & Gamble's
paper-making operations. He also took on large projects for
Pepperidge Farm, including a technology makeover at an apple juice
facility. "They asked me to stay and manage the facility, so I made
the final transformation from project engineering to management,"
"I went to bigger and bigger plant management jobs from there,"
Kratz continues. At Sara Lee, he helped turn around a startup
facility that was struggling out of the gate. His last 13 years
have been with Harry & David, an Oregon-based
company known for its gifts and treats, particularly delicious
pears. Kratz is executive vice president for operations in a
company known for an unusual way of operating.
"It's a very unique company, vertically integrated," he says.
Harry & David grows its own pears, handles its own baking and
candy making, assembles its own product collections, conducts its
own direct marketing, and operates its own stores. The
holiday season is its busiest time of the year.
Under Kratz, Harry & David has made significant improvements
to a wide range of processes. It has adopted new technology that
automatically sorts the fruit by quality and environmentally
friendly practices that have earned multiple sustainability