After 36 years with Nestle Purina Pet Care Co., the last 17 with the Purina plant in Flagstaff, Bill Calloway has retired, leaving some big shoes to fill both in the plant and in the Flagstaff community. This might be a bit intimidating for some, but not so for the new plant manager, Amy Kerr. “Bill did leave big shoes to fill, but he also made it easy for the person who followed him and I am very grateful for that.”
Flagstaff is new to Kerr in so many ways. Born in Illinois and raised on a farm, she went to college to become an accountant and finished college with the intent to join the Army. That plan went out the door when in 2000 she interviewed and was hired by Purina to work in the accounting department. After several moves and promotions, she expressed an interest in production management and soon found herself shifted over to that side of the company. “My father asked me why I would be interested in production and I told him I knew the day I went into the production side of Purina that I wanted to become a plant manager – and now I have reached that goal.”
The plant in Flagstaff has been in operation more than 35 years, having been built in the 1970s by the Ralston Purina Company. It has expanded twice, once in 2003 and then again in 2008. In 2001, Ralston merged with the Swiss-based Nestle to form Nestle Purina. More than 200 people work for the company.
In addition to getting used to her new responsibilities and the demands of being the plant manager, Kerr is adjusting to life in Flagstaff after moving from Iowa with her family. She says she “loves the sunshine” and is getting acclimated to the culture, both in Flagstaff and at the plant. “My first priority is the plant and I also want to learn more about the people who work at this plant and about the people who live in Flagstaff.”
Kerr keeps a busy schedule at work and personally but she admits that she is “very excited” to be in Flagstaff and to have an opportunity to manage the Nestle Purina plant. She acknowledges that she is still learning a great deal and isn’t sure yet what changes will develop under her leadership but she is ready for the challenge. “I was picked for this position as plant manager in Flagstaff and I am very excited to be here.” She recognizes that the area offers many opportunities and says the winters – at least what she has experienced so far – “are nothing compared to the winters in Iowa.”
Kerr knows Bill Calloway was not only a visible figure at the plant but also in the community and she wants to follow his lead. She is hoping her entire leadership team will be involved in community projects and development. As a large manufacturer in Flagstaff, she believes Nestle Purina must remain supportive of the community and she is anxious to learn how the company can get involved.
Bill Calloway has left Flagstaff and now lives in Georgia. For now, Kerr has slipped into his shoes; however, she is likely to get her very own pair soon that fits well for her, Flagstaff and Nestle Purina. FBN