Employee Spotlight: Ken Hennen

We consider a career with Fredman Bag something special. That might be why so many of our employees have been with us for so long. And because our employees are special to us, we thought we should highlight them more. That’s why we will occasionally feature employees in our “Employee Spotlight” blogs. It’s an opportunity to get to know the people behind our name.

For our first installation in this series, we sat down with Technical Services Manager Ken Hennen for a conversation.

Have you always worked as the Technical Services Manager?
No, in fact, I’ve often thought that a good trivia question for one of our regular employee appreciation dinners would be “Which of the following roles has Ken not been in over the course of his career with Fredman Bag?”

I started working for Fredman Bag in 1985 in the Printing Department. I was a Press Operator on a 4-color stack press and a 1960’s 6-color CI press. Soon after that I became the Department Leadworker on 2nd shift. In those days, that included mixing inks, mounting plates, running the slitter/rewinder, and some maintenance, among other miscellaneous tasks.

Over the years, I’ve also served in Production Scheduling (which included Pre-press and Purchasing), was Converting Department Manager and also Operations Manager for a time.

So I’ve been around for a long time and have played numerous roles over the years.

What led you to work at Fredman Bag?
I was working with another printing company in the area in 1985. That company was unionized and I was looking for a change. I also wanted to feel more recognized and a part of a team. Fredman Bag’s family-oriented organization was just what I was looking for.

What does a typical day look like for you?
No days are typical since every day has unique opportunities and challenges! However, my time is generally divided between the following:

  • Management Systems (Quality, Environmental, and Food Safety) development and maintenance
  • Quality Assurance activities
  • Compliance with Federal, State and Local regulations (EPA, DNR, OSHA, UL, Department of Military Affairs, City of Milwaukee, and State of Wisconsin)
  • Overseeing Maintenance and Shipping & Receiving departments
  • Writing of procedures, instructions, and other documents
  • Whatever else happens to need attention on any given day.

You’ve worked at Fredman Bag for nearly 40 years. A lot has changed over that time, but what would you say stands out the most to you?
Fredman Bag has developed over the years to become a nicely structured place to work at. Visitors, consultants, contractors, and others have often commented about these developments and have said they view us as a world-class organization.

The technology from 37 years ago has also changed quite a bit. I have to admit, it would be a challenge to run our printing presses, plate-mounters, slitters, bag machines or other equipment with all they have on them now compared to those of yesteryear.

What are you most passionate about at work?
SQF Food Safety Certification is definitely a passion of mine. Our ability to achieve “Excellent” status several years in row reflects the efforts that all our employees put into our management systems.

What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?
I like to think of myself as the “Master of Unfinished Projects” around the house. I also enjoy shooting pool and pitching some horseshoes.

Tell us something that others may not know about you.
When I was young, around 12 or 13, I appeared as a child servant with the Florentine Opera Company and the Milwaukee Symphony in the Italian Opera “Madame Butterfly” and as one of the urchins in the French Opera “Carmen.” To this day, I still remember some of the choruses, but don’t ask me to sing any of them! While my voice has definitely aged some, I do still enjoy doing a little karaoke at times.