Employee Spotlight: Luis Tapia, Manufacturing Plant Engineer, North America

Luis Tapia began his career as a process engineer. In hopes of developing what he learned at his previous company and ready for something new, he set his sights on ofi. Eight years later, he is the manufacturing plant engineer at our Spices facility in the “garlic capital of the world,” Gilroy, California. Follow his journey.


Your full name: Luis Tapia


Your city and country (i.e. London, United Kingdom):  Gilroy, California, US


Your job title: Manufacturing Plant Engineer


Your functional area (i.e. Finance): Operations, Maintenance


How long have you been at ofi? (years): 8 years

What brought you to ofi?

Before joining ofi, I worked for a few years as a process engineer at Morton Salt, a US-based producer of salt for grocery, water softening, ice control, agricultural and industrial uses. When I saw there was an opening at the Spices manufacturing facility in Gilroy, Calif., I applied immediately, hoping to expand my skill set.


Q: What has your journey at ofi been like?

I was hired as a maintenance supervisor and in my first couple years I worked on the front line, supervising. In Gilroy, once harvest starts, we run 24/7 until the end of the season so we’re all hands-on deck. That gave me the opportunity to learn other parts of the business, like storeroom supervision, so I could cover for my coworkers, if they were out on leave.


During that time, I also got more involved with updating some of the process flows, diagrams and working on CapEx (Capital Expenditure) projects with the corporate engineering team. All of which, has led to my promotion to manufacturing plant engineer.


Q: What’s the most exciting part about your job?

One of the main reasons I've enjoyed this job so much is that every year, there is a different challenge, a new system to learn or new skills to develop. You get the opportunity to learn on the job and try different things every year or two or as people join or leave and that keeps it interesting. I guess on the flip side it’s a little bit challenging too, depending on how hard or easy the task will be, but rewarding.


Q: What has been your favorite moment at ofi so far?

I’ll never forget my first harvest season. I started working in Gilroy a couple weeks before our season started up and when we get started, it's 24/7 – we're getting a full truck load of freshly harvested garlic delivered every 30 minutes. When the garlic arrives, our team immediately starts dumping the raw product into our hoppers to keep the production lines full of product and constantly running. It still amazes me how much volume of product goes through our facility.


Q: Our company purpose is ‘be the change for good food and a healthy future.’ In what way do you live our purpose through your work?

Each year, our team is asked to adjust and improve our food safety, to maintain the mindset that food safety is a continuous improvement process. The plant leadership team is always bringing in new ideas or sharing what’s trending in the industry in terms of new food safety or new quality ideas. So, we’re always challenged to look for, add, or adjust our food safety processes to not stay static.