Andy Fitzgerrell, Cheese Specialist
Salt Lake City, Utah
- What does your job title mean?
I am responsible for purchasing the vast majority of the cheeses that we carry within the Specialty department in our store. I am also responsible for educating my team on the cheeses we carry and giving them the information that helps our customers know why we carry some of the best cheeses in the world!
- What's been your career path to Whole Foods Market?
I started in the Produce department in our Superior, Colorado store in 2008. When I moved to Utah in January 2009, there weren’t any Produce positions available. I was offered a spot in Specialty, if I wanted to try it out. “I like cheese!” was my response, though I had virtually no knowledge about cheese. I moved into the buyer position after a few months, and have been the buyer at two stores here in Salt Lake City since then.
- A Day in the Life
I help open my department and then take a look at emails and anything that needs immediate addressing. I then move on to checking our backstock and writing my orders. After that I move onto assisting with production, building displays, merchandising, driving new programs, educating the team on new arrivals, engaging customers. My days are very full!
- A recent memorable day
I really enjoyed getting to participate in the first, ever, American Cheese Society “Certified Cheese Professional Exam.” It was the first time an exam was offered that gave people (150 test takers, in total) in the cheese industry the opportunity to define ourselves and have the chance to test our knowledge and have some sort of definition of what we do. It was similar to a wine sommelier certification, but for cheese. Whole Foods went the extra mile and sent 80 of us to Madison, WI to study for 5 days at the Center for Dairy Research and tour cheese making facilities. And then they sent us to Raleigh, NC to take the exam. The whole thing was one of the best experiences of my life.
- What advice do you have for people considering joining the Whole Foods Market team?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your peers. One of the best things about WFM is that they hire really nice people! We’re all here to help each other.