For nearly three decades, Rick Schultz has been Edlong’s expert on flavor development. This month, he shares the story of his first big success, his proactive solution to a pungent client challenge, his musical talent, and the path he follows when he’s not at work.
VP of Strategic Product Development, R&D Department
When did you start at Edlong?
I joined Edlong in November 1987.
How would you describe your typical day?
My primary responsibility is new flavor development. Since this knowledge is acquired after many years, it’s also my responsibility to pass on what I know to the next generation who will carry on our legacy. I also spend considerable time traveling and meeting with customers.
What’s your favorite part about working here?
The relationships and the culture. You’re empowered and trusted to do your job. Everyone contributes to make Edlong a fun place to work.
Is there a project, event, etc. that sticks out in your mind or a favorite memory that you might have from your time here?
It would be my first significant flavor hit. We had been trying to get into a major consumer product company and we were given a project to match three flavors they were buying so we would be considered as an alternate supplier. After we submitted samples, the incumbent flavor company sent out a memo stating that they had a minor problem that was under control, but they just wanted to alert their customers about it. The company was uncomfortable about that and I received a call from the developer who said “You know those three flavors you submitted to us? If you can get me 1500 pounds of each yesterday, you’re in!” It led to a much bigger opportunity the next year. Very exciting! This all happened within my first two years at Edlong.
How does what you do impact Edlong’s customers?
Along with dairy technologies and ingredients, we’re a flavor house. We develop and market flavors. Customers come to Edlong to make their products taste great. It’s what we do.
How does your work make Edlong better?
I’m just one small piece of a tremendous team. It’s the teamwork that makes Edlong better.
It’s hard to beat a good filet.
One thing your coworkers might not know about you.
Although we’ve taken a break for a bit, I’ve been writing music with my best friend for the last 25 years. We have a home studio. No performing aspirations.
Your favorite thing to do for fun.
Besides songwriting? Hiking at state and national parks has to be at the top of the list. I love the outdoors.
Any other anecdotes or stories about a time that you took a special pride in your work, or an interesting story about your time at Edlong?
We had a very large customer who used our flavor in a significant product launch. After some time on the market, they started receiving consumer complaints that the product smelled sour when the container was opened, as if it had already gone bad. They came to us to see if we had any ideas about why this was happening, because they were using this flavor in another product without any issues. The original product was a non-dairy application where this new product contained dairy. They were very concerned and called a meeting with us and their QC/Sensory person. Prior to this meeting, we looked at formulas and realized that since this new product had dairy content, our flavor was contributing too much dairy and we identified a few components as potential culprits. We made a new flavor, applied it to their product and brought samples to this meeting. When we arrived, the product developer came up to me and whispered “Rick, we got a tough one for you.” He was obviously concerned. Unbeknownst to him, we had the problem covered. We tasted it with their QC and he said “You nailed it! You guys obviously know what you’re doing!” We adjusted the flavor formula for them and it helped solidify our reputation as the dairy flavor experts.