On March 25, 2014, Rich Products Corporation’s Maureen Lynch was among an elite group of foodservice industry figures from across the nation honored with prestigious “Women Making Their Mark” awards from the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF). The awards were presented at the WFF Annual Leadership Development Conference, held in Dallas.
The annual “Women Making Their Mark” awards recognize up-and-coming female leaders in foodservice for their extraordinary leadership skills and significant professional accomplishments, as well as each individual’s distinctive “it” factor. The WFF award bestowed on Lynch was in tribute to her achievements while serving as Rich’s Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) leader in Customer Service & Logistics for the company’s entire U.S./Canada business. S&OP is the foundation for Rich’s approach to business planning and governance.
Lynch, who joined Rich’s in 2003, is a determined, highly respected leader and change agent with more than 25 years of impressive accomplishments in the manufacturing sector of the foodservice industry. She has applied her exceptional skills in plant management, quality assurance and food safety, automation, supply chain governance, new product development, training, process improvement, and production efficiency.
The accolade from the WFF was based largely on Lynch’s success in elevating Rich’s in 2013 from an Oliver Wight “Capable” level to the highly esteemed “Class A Advanced” level of business performance excellence.
Oliver Wight is the global business management consulting firm that helped pioneer integrated business planning (IBP) methodologies and classifications. Class A is the highest level, attained so far by just a handful of companies. Driven by Lynch’s passion for excellence and guided by her broad expertise, the cross-functional team she directed was able to secure top certification for Rich’s in just over a year.
The certification focused on the core business practices of Lynch’s S&OP team. The group’s integrated approach to planning and operations not only led to the Class A status, but also has helped Rich’s set new industry standards for the delivery of service and quality to its customers.
“This classification level is about looking out at your horizon and determining your business needs 24 months and more down the road,” explained Lynch. “It’s important to make adjustments based on your future needs, while eliminating the non-value-added work.”
Lynch demonstrated an impressive level of leadership during the IBP process through her collaboration with other Rich’s divisions – a necessity due to the cross-functional nature of the task. In order to properly plan requirements and prepare Rich’s associates accordingly,
she successfully drove certain cultural and behavioral changes that would be essential to advancing the company’s mission. “We made it clear that if you see an issue coming, you communicate it immediately,” Lynch pointed out. “It’s all about the company’s exposure and making sure leadership is aware of potential issues that might affect our 24-month plan and strategic direction.”
The award recognition by the WFF extended beyond the Oliver Wight Class A certification to other areas of Lynch’s work at Rich’s, including her establishment of a mentoring program within the Customer Service & Logistics Division. Created in January 2012, the program has provided division associates their first-ever opportunities at Rich’s to sit down with a mentor, attend training and receive valuable professional feedback. As a result, associate engagement within the operation has increased.
“Mentoring fosters a trusting relationship in the work environment and gives people the opportunity to share ideas and provide honest feedback,” Lynch said. “It’s another way to provide associates with the tools they need to be more efficient and productive.”
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., where Rich’s is headquartered, Lynch holds a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College and an MBA from Niagara University. She generously gives back to the community by delivering inspirational talks and mentoring inner-city youths. “I spend a good amount of time in mentoring activities,” she admits, “but it’s what I enjoy.” She lately has been involved in the development of a special youth career day, inviting Rich’s associates from different disciplines to discuss their professions with inner-city students.
In 2009, Lynch received a “40 Under 40” award, which is given by Buffalo’s Business First newspaper to 40 outstanding young leaders who have contributed in extraordinary ways.