Embracing Servant Leadership in Food Processing with Gavin Johnston, Plant Manager at Veg Pro International Inc. and Owner of Redpath Strategies | FoodGrads Podcast Episode 78

Gavin Johnston is a Plant Manager at Veg Pro International Inc and Owner of Redpath Strategies. Veg Pro International Inc. is a recognized leader in the innovative farming and processing of lettuce and vegetables. They are known under the “Attitude Fraîche” brand, and their pre-washed lettuces are available in major grocery chains.

Gavin is a manufacturing leader with success in servant leadership, business transformation, strategic planning and operational excellence. He has extensive segment experience in the hospitality industry, snack foods, high and low-acidic beverages, bakery ingredients and dairy manufacturing, pet food manufacturing and supply chain. He a firm believer in continuous improvement at all levels from C-suit executives to manufacturing operators.

Show Notes


[2:40] What is VegPro

[4:15] What Gavin does as a plant manager at a food processing facility

[8:06] Gavin’s journey to how he became a plant manager

[17:00] How Gavin decided that he wanted to become a plan manager

[20:59] How Gavin developed his skills to become a plant manager

[28:21] What to do if your supervisor isn’t a good mentor or doesn’t have the time?

[29:46] What is servant mentorship and how Gavin came to embrace it

[38:34] The skills and qualities essential for someone aspiring to be a plant manager

[44:53] Things that Gavin might consider if he wanted to perform continuous improvement on a food production line.


VegPro International

Scotland’s Rural College

Durham College

Robert Greenleaf

Gavin Johnston Quotes

I was encouraged to get into the food manufacturing business because my dad said that it’s pretty much a recession proof industry. So if you’re able to get a job in the food industry you have a job for life.

Gavin Johnston

I honestly thought that I wouldn’t make it as a plant supervisor. And I was ready to give up within the first week for sure. But I kept learning. I kept going back to the phrase, ask way too many questions. And I asked questions and I annoyed a lot of people and that was that was one part that really helped for me as I was just the annoying guy that asked a lot of questions.

Gavin Johnston

[When asked about finding a mentor] So I would say one, you either start looking for a mentor outside of the organization who you can rely on to help coach you through the situations you’re having at work. If you can’t find anyone outside of it, then I would honestly start looking for another company where, you know, that you can go in there and and get get mentored.

Gavin Johnston

Maybe it’s a bit of a controversial view, but I would always advise for for people leaving university or college or school. I would try and get into a bigger organization because typically not all the time, but typically the bigger organizations have. A ton of support networks and a ton of resources that you can that you can collaborate with.

Gavin Johnston

So, if I were to put it in in a real context in my everyday life my servant leadership mentality is a ton of active listening.

Gavin Johnston


This episode of the podcast is supported by CareersNow! CareersNow! is Food and Beverage Ontario’s multi-year workforce development initiative that is connecting students and job seekers with employers in Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry for exciting career opportunities. Check out for more information on exciting jobs, career information, industry mentors and training opportunities for professional development.

This episode of the podcast is brought to you by our Education Partner Durham College. Durham College Durham College (DC) offers more than 12,000 full-time post-secondary and apprenticeship students access to more than 140 full-time and part-time programs in a number of different disciplines, enabling them to develop the skills required to meet the demands of today’s job market.

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