The manufacturing industry has always been one of rapid change and growth, and at the helm of one such company, LloydPans, is Traci Rennaker, president and CEO. Despite the obstacles of COVID-19 and being a woman in a male-dominated industry, Rennaker is part of the historical, groundbreaking moments that happen every day. Through hard work and belief in herself, Rennaker has climbed the proverbial ladder into the top role for the pan manufacturer that specializes in commercial pizza and baking pans, as well as foodservice equipment.
Before working at LloydPans, Rennaker worked at a large sheet metal fabrication company as an executive and the director of customer service, sales and engineering. She transitioned to LloydPans about 10 years ago as the director of sales, leading efforts to grow business and brand recognition. After just one year, she was promoted to vice president and then a few years later, president and CEO.
Rennaker said there has been significant improvement in the way society views and supports females in positions of authority, although there is still a long way to go.
“There are not many females running manufacturing companies,” she said. “It has been a particularly rewarding experience for me because when I was originally hired by the founder, I was brought in as the director of sales and asked to expand the company’s sales and branding efforts. Despite going through numerous acquisitions with various private equity firms, I was still put in charge of running the company.”
As a mother of two girls, it has always been extremely important for Rennaker to demonstrate that it’s possible to do anything you put your mind to, as long as you work hard and persevere. She hopes girls, just like her daughters, who are transitioning into professional careers can use her story, and several others, as inspiration to never give up on your goals.
In her tenure at LloydPans, Rennaker and her team have had to adapt to ever-changing marketing dynamics, most recently with COVID-19. Instead of stumbling, the company has thrived due to two specific decisions: maintaining manufacturing in the United States and continued emphasis on brand communication.
While the manufacturing industry in the United States has lost significant capacity to foreign countries, Rennaker and LloydPans refuses to ship production overseas in an effort to cut costs.
“Manufacturing in the United States gives us the opportunity to pay fair, livable wages to members of our community. It also helps reduce our environmental impact, which is a key focus of our company. We also have the ability to control logistics as well as lead time to the customer.”
This level of control proved essential when the global pandemic started, as LloydPans’ supply chain was completely in its control, allowing them to continue to make and ship pans without interruption.
The decision to control manufacturing and even tooling has allowed LloydPans to serve customers quickly. Also helping is a thriving ecommerce website that continues to outperform expectations. When some of the largest pizza chains and independent foodservice operators are your customers, it’s quite unique. And, as a result, branding and communication become essential assets.
“Our success has been driven by our emphasis on communicating our company’s competencies to our customers,” Rennaker said. “For example, LloydPans is widely regarded for customization, innovation, short lead times, no MOQs (minimum order quantity), and in-house tooling and design. We have emphasized these competencies in communicating our brand with the goal to create solutions to help resolve the problems our current and future customers experience. We strive to be a partner and a champion for each of our customers.”
Innovation is another cornerstone of LloydPans’ reputation and recognition. However, Rennaker can’t point to a single product she’s most proud of, but instead, she takes pride in the culture of innovation and forward progress at the company, especially highlighting her team’s ability to solve customers’ problems.
“Over the years, we have really pushed the boundary in terms of developing unique and progressive baking platforms,” Rennaker said. “For example, we developed an egg pan for a large multinational chain that allows them to cook eggs in their speed cook ovens. These eggs that are cooked in this unique pan look like a chef was standing over a grill turning eggs. With this pan, we have reduced costs for our customers without compromising quality.”
Rennaker loves the pizza and baking industries because of the pace. Trends are evolving so quickly, and consumer tastes and preferences are constantly changing. As a company, this means LloydPans is constantly in a state of innovation and partnership with customers to stay ahead of trends and create products that will address future consumer demands. The Detroit-Style Pizza Pan is one of the company’s best sellers, and it’s also Rennaker’s favorite pizza style. With a thick crust, a perfect balance of crispy and chewy, and the ratio of cheese to sauce, it’s her go-to pizza fix, made in her very own pan just like many of her customers.
“It’s fun to be involved in these large projects and seeing our company take a concept from design, to engineering, to prototype, and finally the finished product,” Rennaker said. “Being with the company for about 10 years, I have been fortunate to see significant growth. The growth allowed us to provide more opportunities for employment and career progression. Seeing how the company’s growth has been able to provide for the well-being of other families has been the most rewarding part of my job. The employees are and will always be the reason why LloydPans has been so successful over the years.”