SensoryEffects employs a continuous improvement operating philosophy to increase the efficiency of its manufacturing capabilities. “We work constantly on our processes internally,” says Holdrieth, seeking to gain more capacity from its existing production equipment and leverage its buying power for raw materials. “We measure productivity by employee every year. Every year, productivity has increased. As we have moved the product line from commodities to more differentiated products, we have enjoyed a higher average sales price.”

Holdrieth says the Defiance facility works on a five-week manufacturing plan and uses weekly multi-discipline manufacturing meetings to keep on top of its demanding production schedule.  Since acquiring the facility, he says, the company has been able to increase the production capacity by 40%, not from one major change but a series of incremental improvements.

“All the little things make the difference,” he says.

Holdrieth says his division’s growth is also due in no small measure to a work force with a “work ethic that is off the charts.” He says, "We are so impressed with the skills, positive attitude and work ethic of our team in Northwest Ohio."

The company has also built its production footprint through acquisitions. Since 2007, it has purchased 12 companies and Holdrieth says the firm has over 100 potential acquisitions on the table at any one time. Most recently, the firm purchased the dairy and non-dairy creamer business of Quality Ingredients Corp., resulting in it adding a Marshfield, Wis., manufacturing site with a spray dryer and other dry blending equipment.

Because Sensory Effects has both large and small spray dryers, it can process a variety of products cost-effectively. Holdrieth says the Defiance facility typically runs 15 different products in a week, allowing customers to produce more customized functional ingredients and grow production quantities as the product develops a market.

The drive for innovative, convenient products shows no signs of abating, says Holdrieth. “The consumer’s expectation has grown dramatically. When you were a kid and put chocolate milk powder in milk, you had to stir it and stir it. Now people expect that they dump powder in and it will completely dissolve. It will be completely soluble. They don’t want to use a mixer. That is the challenge – particle size manipulation, bulk density, flowability -­ those parameters are the challenge in delivering the end product.”