The people behind the products: meet John Garsombke, Fermentation Shift Supervisor, Bacteria production plant, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
John has been with Lallemand Animal Nutrition for 8 years. He is overseeing the production of bacteria strains included in forage inoculants, such as the MAGNIVA range, as well as lactic acid bacteria for probiotic feed additives, including BACTOCELL, MICRO-CELL, and NOVA-CELL.
Please explain your role with Lallemand.
I and my team oversee the growing, fermenting, and concentrating of the bacteria cultures at the Milwaukee bacteria production site. The Lallemand bacteria products that are produced in Milwaukee support the animal nutrition business in over 12 countries. As a shift supervisor, I supervise a small team of six people. One thing I have really enjoyed over the years is helping mentor and coach the new 2nd shift supervisor and help that team member grow into their role and continue to succeed.
What is the best part of your role at Lallemand?
Not only do I enjoy the fermentation and people on the fermentation team, I also am physically active throughout the day. This job is a great way to “get your steps in”!
What drew you to fermentation and Lallemand?
I double-majored in biochemistry and microbiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and while in college, I gained a lot of experience working on yeast and other fermentation technologies in a University lab in the biofuels and microbiology field. This really was interesting to me and through that network, I learned about Lallemand and the Milwaukee facility. I started after college with Lallemand in the quality control laboratory. Over the years, I really have enjoyed the flexibility to grow into and help make my own position as the Milwaukee facility grew with new technology, equipment advances. As I transitioned out of the quality control lab team, I went on to be the second shift supervisor and have advanced from there. In my free time, I am also a homebrewer and enjoy a great meal and beer, so I also really enjoy collaborating with Lallemand employees from other divisions and, of course, knowing the Lallemand Brewing products firsthand.
What is the most important part of your role, in relation to producing a high-quality product?
Lallemand really puts a lot of time and effort into ensuring batch-to-batch performance and high-quality products. Some of the things our team manages with each and every fermentation is the pH, temperature, conductivity, and timing. By ensuring each parameter is met and controlled, the bacteria are fully viable and ready to perform for the nutritionists, farmers, ranchers and animal owners that use Lallemand’s products.
What are your top 3 reasons to work at Lallemand?
1. Friendly work environment and the best team of people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences
2. Flexible scheduling
3. Fulfilling work, I must have a certain level of physical fitness but also is interesting work
What’s a fun fact about you?
I am the lead drummer for a Milwaukee Scottish Pipe Band. We are Wisconsin State Champions for Grade 4 bands for two years running at the Wisconsin Highlands Games!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice, I’ve received was to use your network and ask your connections for mentorship and guidance! In high school, my advanced placement biology teacher was instrumental in focusing me on the sciences and paving the way for my career interests. This teacher emphasized that credible work experience will always be beneficial regardless of the career path and helped make the connection to a laboratory I worked in prior to college. That connection and real-life experience grew my skills and led me to another research laboratory at the UW-Madison, the selection of my college majors and ultimately my career path.
Have you completed anything from your bucket list?
I opened for a few of my favorite bands, After the Burial, Born of Osiris, which was super cool. Not only did we have a great time playing music but being backstage by musicians I look up to is amazing.