Mark Engdahl
Mark Engdahl, VP of Foodservice Operations, Shamrock Foods Company

"On the inbound side, it's a way for our company to understand what we are up against in various areas of our business, and in how we are dealing with new issues and new regulations."

Shamrock Foods Company is the umbrella for Shamrock Farms, one of the largest dairies in the Southwest, and Shamrock Foods, one of the top 10 largest foodservice distribution companies in the United States. Headquartered in Phoenix, Shamrock serves customers in ten states from seven distribution centers.

Mark Engdahl joined the company in 2003 and is the vice president of foodservice operations. He holds a BS in Agriculture, Forestry, and Agricultural Economics and says he had intended to pursue that field, but following college he began working in retail grocery distribution, then 14 years later moved into foodservice.

Engdahl has been engaged with IFDA for more than a decade as a regular at the Distribution Solutions Conference, and serves on the IFDA Operations Leadership Committee. For the past five years he has also served on the Planning Council for the IFDA Distribution Solutions Conference, a group that identifies topics and puts together conference workshops.

Asked what he gets on a personal level from this work, Engdahl says: “The biggest things I take away are the relationships I’ve built over the years.  They are just invaluable. I’ve gained not only work relationships, but personal friendships out of IFDA. If I get stuck on something, or I just want to get an opinion on something, I have people I can call and they can do the same with me.  To me it’s the networking, it’s the relationships, it’s having these people as resources in your toolbox.”

Along with Engdahl, Shamrock Foods has other thought leaders engaged in IFDA Leadership Committees for food safety, human resources, government relations, information technology, and safety and risk. Engdahl says the benefit to Shamrock of investing people in this work is both inbound and outbound.

“It’s providing input so IFDA can take that to Capitol Hill for us, which is really important because we need to have a voice. It’s also making sure we have input on major regulations like various rules within the Food Safety Modernization Act. As a company, our voice is stronger when it can be used collectively with the industry.”  That’s the outbound side, says Engdahl.

“On the inbound side, it’s a way for our company to understand what we are up against in various areas of our business, and in how we are dealing with new issues and new regulations,” says Engdahl.

In 2015, the IFDA Distribution Solutions Conference was held in Phoenix, and Engdahl helped coordinate a tour of Shamrock’s Phoenix distribution center. The 850,000 square-foot facility is 110 feet high and largely automated.

“With the conference being held in Phoenix, we were very pleased to be able to open our doors to the industry to come in and take a look. Obviously, we are very much into technology and working smarter, not harder for our people,” said Engdahl. “As things get more regulated and tighter, everyone is working on how to cut costs and do things better. We tend to embrace technology as one vehicle that can do that and we were happy to share.”