If you’d like to work at something different, perhaps a Schwan’s job application might be worthwhile for you. So, let’s take a look at the company and their operations, and see just what they’re all about.
Schwan’s was founded in 1952, when Marvin Schwan had the idea of setting up a business to deliver his family’s homemade ice cream to the countryside of western Minnesota. This idea worked well for him, so five years later he added a line of frozen juice concentrates to his offerings, and five years after that, in 1962, he also began selling frozen fish.
The company began selling frozen pizza to schools in the 1970’s, and when that was successful, created the Red Baron brand of pizza for sale in grocery stores. The 1980’s saw the acquisition of several other existing businesses including a pizza maker called Sabatasso foods and an Asian foods company named Minh Food Corporation. The end of the decade saw Schwan’s first venture into the overseas market, with the opening of a plant in England.
In 1994, Schwan’s was faced with a recall of one of its ice cream products, based upon an outbreak of salmonella. Up to this point in time, food makers had reacted to forced recalls by trying to hush up the problem. Schwan’s was the first to respond by actually publicizing the problem, and asking people to return any of the affected food products they’d already purchased. This model has since been adopted by the rest of the industry as standard policy.
Schwan’s has been affected noticeably by the last four years of recession, closing out most of its operations in Georgia and Louisiana.
Route Relief Driver – This is a common entry level position with Schwan’s. You are a relief driver to replace the normal drivers when they are sick, on vacation, or involved with special projects. You drive your route around to the various grocery stores, you re-stock the company’s products in those stores, you pre-order more as needed, and handle all the paperwork. You interface with the grocery store management, and continually schmooze to see if you can’t get them to stock more of your company’s products and/or devote more space to displaying the products. And you also handle any complaints that may arise. You must be 21 to hold this job, and you will need to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Do well at this job, and you’ll be promoted to Route Driver, with your own regular route.
Part-Time Merchandiser – This position is very similar to the Route Driver position, but you are not actually delivering your company’s products. Instead, the customer has the products already in their storage freezer, and you simply move them out to the display cases and re-stock as needed, as well as rotating stock. You also assist the store with any “resets”, (a trade term for those happy occasions when the grocery store moves everything around, and nobody can find anything for a couple weeks), making sure that the new location has Schwan’s products displayed properly and attractively. You don’t actually perform a direct sales function, but you need to be alert to sales opportunities and inform the sales representative. You only need to be 18 for this job, and a standard driver’s license is sufficient.
Route Sales Representative – This is the classic Schwan’s delivery job, where you drive your truck along an assigned route and sell direct to the customers in their homes. You are responsible for handling all the paperwork, addressing complaints, and building new customer relationships. While this will keep you out of the office and away from bosses for most of your day, there are some potential drawbacks. You need to be willing to work 60 hours per week, including evenings and weekends. Over half of your pay depends upon commissions and bonuses you receive for things like signing up new customers. A standard driver’s license is enough, but you need a relatively clean record, with no DUI in the last 3 years, and no more than one moving violation in the last 12 months. It is common to begin in this career track as a Trainee, assisting the regular Route Sales Rep.
A review of anonymous feedback from current and former employees of Schwan’s reveals a level of employee satisfaction significantly below average. Only 18% “approve of” CEO Greg Flack.
Getting That Job At Schwan’s
When you arrive at the career site, (http://www.schwansjobs.com/), you’ll see the obligatory corporate “diversity” picture, and a menu on the left. Click the top menu item, “Search Jobs”. You’ll land at a fairly standard job search page. Skip the Job Number and keyword fields, leave Job Field set to All, change Country to US, and enter your zip code. Now set what you consider a reasonable distance to commute, and you will see displayed below all the Schwan’s facilities that are within your specified radius. Select the checkbox next to those facilities you’d like to search for jobs, and click the gray Search For Jobs button at the bottom.
Now you’ll see a list of available positions at those locations which you selected. Click on each entry for more information and a link that enables you to apply online.
And now here are a potpourri of facts that may be useful to you –
- Average total compensation (base plus commission and incentives) for a Route Sales Representative is $9.00 per hour, with reports varying from a low of $8.00 per hour to a high of $10.00 per hour.
- Feedback from applicants indicates a hiring process that consists of a phone interview, a face-to-face interview, and then a ride-along with an existing employee. The ride-along days can be very long, as much as 12-14 hours in some cases. Most applicants indicated that they were not paid for the ride-along day.
- All applicants that complete the interview process successfully should certainly expect to undergo a drug test and a test of manual dexterity, and possibly a background check.
- Many applicants related a hiring process which stretched over two or even four weeks, with multiple follow-up calls required to move the process along.
- Several female applicants for the Route Driver position indicated that they felt the interviewer was actively trying to discourage women from applying.
- Sample interview question – “What techniques would you use to increase your sales volume?”
- Sample interview question – “What do you know about Schwan’s and its history?”
- Sample interview question – “Tell me about a sales goal that you had and did not meet. How did you deal with this?”
- Sample interview question – “How will your family feel about you being at work 12-14 hours a day?”
- Sample interview question – “What makes you a good employee?”
And there you have a sampler of what you need to know before filling out your Schwan’s application. It’s hard to know just what to say about this company. The low employee satisfaction ratings might be due to the recent plant closures in Louisiana and Georgia, which will have created a large number of unhappy ex-employees. But the persistent reports of an apparent reluctance to hire women for some positions are troubling, and the 12-14 hour days are perhaps more than most of us are willing to put in. In the end, of course, the decision is up to you.