O-15. The importance of supplier quality and its impact on brewing operations

Presenter: Brad A. Rush, The Samuel Adams Brewing Company, Cincinnati, OH

In today’s business environment, supplier quality is a basic requirement needed to deliver a superior product to your consumers. The business models designed around price of materials, on-time delivery, and lack of defects won’t get you very far in today’s food production environments. With the recent passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), today’s business focus needs to be around food safety and the pre-requisite programs required to be a world-class supplier in the food and beverage industries. This presentation will provide information on the basics of assessing a supplier for overall risk to the business through risk assessment and auditing. The result of the risk assessment will help to determine the higher risk suppliers to your business and at what frequency the customer may want to review or audit suppliers for risks or gaps in their business. An audit of your supplier should not be limited to food safety, as it will also need to focus on how the supplier manages consumer complaints, communication with employees, managing change, and the effectiveness of training, to name a few. More and more of the supplier audits today look at all aspects of the supplier’s ability to be a consistent source of the highest quality materials that the brewery can use to deliver a quality product to the end consumer. The audit of a supplier today covers many areas of the business, and it must paint a clear picture as to what challenges and opportunities a supplier may have that can potentially impact the customer in any way. The focus of supplier quality for the Boston Beer Company has always been a top priority, but as we grow, we are seeing that it is a critical piece in the business model that our founder has built this business on.

Brad Rush, manager of supplier quality, joined The Samuel Adams Brewing Company in 2007. Brad holds a B.S. degree in environmental analysis from Carroll College in Waukesha, WI, and certificate in quality engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering; six sigma green belt certification from Lakeshore Technical College; and a diploma in advanced management and leadership from The University of Wisconsin– Madison, School of Business. Brad also has studied with the American Brewers Guild and Institute of Brewing. Brad joined the Boston Beer Company as the quality manager for the Cincinnati brewery and managed the packaging and analytical quality groups. In his current role he is in charge of the supplier quality program for Boston Beer and supports co-manufacture operations throughout North America. His previous experience includes a strong background in brewing, research, and operations at Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company and Miller Brewing Company, as well as hands-on quality analysis with an emphasis in sensory evaluation and quality.

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