John Schoenfellinger, Dietz & Watson
John Schoenfellinger believes in the concept of improving “throughput per square foot.”
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – As the recipient of MEAT+POULTRY’s Operations Executive of the Year Award, John Schoenfellinger, vice president of engineering at Dietz & Watson, has used his creativity, perseverance and problem solving skills to help fuel the premium deli foods manufacturer to tenfold growth over the last 26 years.


Schoenfellinger has spent his whole life in the meat industry, and it’s because of this lifetime of experience that he was named Operations Executive of the Year and featured in the August issue of MEAT+POULTRY.

In Schoenfellinger’s tenure at Dietz & Watson, production volume and revenue has grown tenfold. Chris Eni, COO at Dietz & Watson, credits Schoenfellinger for his role in the company’s growth. Eni says:

“Since arriving at Dietz & Watson in 1990, John’s creativity, engineering expertise, and leadership skills with people has not only helped us grow volume many times over, but has also helped drive productivity that has allowed our company to grow its customer base while retaining the premium quality that has made us successful.

“John is that rare person who not only has the engineering skills to design complex equipment, but is willing to work side by side with the maintenance personnel to successfully install such equipment and to teach people how to use it. I know there has been many a long weekend that John has spent, at any one of our facilities, making sure an installation went exactly as he had planned,” Eni says.

The heart and soul of the Dietz operation is the Philadelphia plant, and the evolution of the operation during Schoenfellinger’s 26 years there has been a labor of love.

“The plant was a hog slaughtering facility in the early 1970s. That’s when Dietz and Watson originally moved here. We’re close to 300,000 sq. ft. in this facility. It was around 60,000 to 100,000 sq. ft. as a slaughter facility. Along with the growth in physical size is the modernization of the equipment to get more pounds throughput per square foot,” he says. “We’ve achieved the output per square foot by utilizing more efficient equipment, higher speed equipment, in particular with the packaging machines. We’ve also increased cooking and chilling capacities along with that.”

The concept of improving “throughput per square foot” is a common thread that weaves throughout the conversation with Schoenfellinger. Through much of his career with Dietz and Watson, he has dealt with the constraints of limited space. “For many years our plant was landlocked, and we couldn’t expand outward, so we had to make the best use of the space we had,” he says.

Read more about the 2016 Operations Executive of the Year in MEAT+POULTRY’s August issue.