The ‘Year of Women in Manufacturing’ Series connects with stand-out women leaders in the industry. The initiative highlights these leaders’ career paths and extracts priceless advice to guide the next generation of professionals.
Come explore the story of Alexandra Groezinger and her journey to becoming president of her family business. Filled with twists and turns, it is a phenomenal example of how the unexpected often turn into stepping stones which lead to an incredible career.
Groezinger Provisions is ‘MADE in New Jersey’ with an International Reach
Groezinger Provisions produces two unique and revered food brands that are sold across the USA, and in Central America, South America and the Caribbean: Alexian Pâté & Specialty Meats and Groezinger Brand European Style Meats. Alexian is one of the leading pâté brands produced here in the U.S., sold in high-end supermarkets, specialty stores, and wine & cheese shops. Their pâtés are all natural, made with top quality ingredients which are free from added hormones and antibiotics and free from anything artificial such as colors, preservatives, and fillers. This ‘MADE in New Jersey’ manufacturing business also produces its Groezinger Brand, a line of meats and sausages that extends into Eastern European stores throughout the United States. The old world flavors of this line are reminiscent of European charcuterie which many of their European customers enjoyed before immigrating to the United States – it is a little taste of home! Experiencing accelerated growth, outpacing the competition, and embracing a productive and supportive workplace culture, Groezinger Provisions is not just an incredible business but one that continues to innovate and improve. This progress and spectacular success are not an accident. It requires exceptional leadership which is now in the hands of Alexandra Groezinger.
No Career Path Follows a Straight Line
Alexandra Groezinger shares the same name as Groezinger Provisions, and that is no coincidence. The business was started by her parents Ewald and Laurie, in 1982, and was inspired by her father’s German heritage and expertise in sausage-making. In 1994, the sudden death of Ewald left her mother with the challenge of keeping a manufacturing business moving forward and caring for two young children. Their unexpected loss was not only a massive hit to their family but the business as well. Struggling to make ends meet and survive dayto- day in a business who had lost its leader, Laurie and the company’s loyal employees (some who are still with the company today!) came to the plant everyday and figured it out together. Over the years, both brands have experienced tremendous growth and success which Alexandra attributes to her mother’s strength and leadership.
Growing up, Alexandra always loved the family business but she wanted to explore the industry on her own first, before joining her mother at the helm.
She worked for Cabot Creamery in Vermont, where she learned about marketing and operations. After almost six years with Cabot, Alexandra left to join Groezinger Provisions. At first, there was an entire plan for how Alexandra was going to progress through the organization. That plan changed almost immediately when the Operations Administrator at the time notified the organization of a sudden and serious health condition which would put her out of work immediately and indefinitely.
A month prior, Alexandra was given a light overview of this position, but it was supposed to be only enough training to allow the Administrator to take a short vacation. Now, Alexandra faced the reality of having to fulfill the shoes of such a critical position to ensure the company could maintain its current operations and continue fulfilling orders.
Alexandra’s Leadership Revolutionized Groezinger Provisions
The Operations Administrator plays a significant role in the day to day operations of the organization. From purchasing to processing customer orders to logistics to office management, without someone that could step up and take the lead, the business may have faced delays and disruptions that would be impossible for it to withstand. Alexandra did not miss a beat and instead, just as her mother did before her, faced and overcame the challenge regardless of the hurdles that stood in her way.
Her time handling this essential function in the organization not only allowed her to learn the company from the ground up but also built a reputation among the workforce. Every employee knew the importance of the role she was thrown into and how challenging it would be for anyone, especially someone so new to the organization to manage. Alexandra’s tenacity and undeniable success allowed her to gain the respect of those that worked at Groezinger’s for decades. Once Alexandra set this position up to be handed off to a new hire and trained that individual, she was ready to continue contributing to the success of the company.
Alexandra is happy to say that the Operations Administrator who laid the groundwork for her, is fully recovered and living a happy and healthy life with her family in North Carolina.
One of Alexandra’s goals in joining the business was to be there to support her mother so she would be able to retire and enjoy her life. In March 2020, Alexandra’s track to the role of President fast forwarded when COVID shut down the world. As a manufacturer, Groezinger was considered an “Essential Business”, and remained open as a critical component to the food supply chain. To protect her mother from this strange new virus, Alexandra took the reins and ran the company so Laurie could be in the safety of her own home. The tremendous challenges and lessons learned from running a business during a pandemic has equipped Alexandra to now sport the title of “President and CEO” of Groezinger Provisions, and she is looking forward to the company’s bright future.
Advice From the Industry Leader
Alexandra shared some incredible advice while sitting down with NJMEP’s ‘Year of Women in Manufacturing’ team to capture her story. She was asked, if she could share insight with every single young woman currently exploring career opportunities, what would it be? Her response should be shared with every young girl as they work their way through school.
“Always ask, because if you don’t ask, the answer will always be ‘No’ or you will never have the opportunity.”ALEXANDRA GROEZINGER, PRESIDENT – GROEZINGER PROVISIONS
She continued, “I say that because I got my start in manufacturing with Cabot, and the only way I got that was by marching myself down to the Cabot offices and asking if they had any internships available. At that time they didn’t, but I called back a few months later and asked again. They brought me in for an internship but then close to the end of that internship, I asked if they had any full-time jobs available and that ask is what opened the door and uncovered that opportunity. I asked for different positions, different types of work, raises when I believed I deserved them.”
“All of these things I earned because I asked for them. I think it’s so important to talk to people, ask questions, because the more you talk to people the more you find out, the more people you know, and the more opportunities open for you,” Alexandra concluded.
The story above and the advice shared are prime examples of the twists and turns a career can take. No two people are identical, and no career path will be either. Alexandra had a family business but that didn’t mean it was a straight road to her current position as President. Her determination, passion, and willingness to stand up and speak out drove her to become the industry leader she is today.
2022 is NJMEP’s ‘Year of Women in Manufacturing’ for a reason. Stories like the one shared here are instrumental in encouraging more young women to explore fruitful careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) space. Throughout the year NJMEP (New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program) will be connecting with more women business leaders and giving them a platform to share their experiences and shine a light on these incredible individuals through articles and speaking events.
SHARE YOUR STORY
More women are entering the field than ever before. These incredible people need role models to look up to and learn from as they’ve already walked the path and can now help guide others. If you’re a woman in manufacturing, engineering, or any STEM discipline or know of one that has a story to share, reach out to Mike Womack, NJMEP Marketing & Communications Manager to set up an interview or learn about upcoming Women in Manufacturing-focused speaking opportunities, today.