Monday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, and for LloydPans, it’s a special day because the company’s chief executive officer, Traci Rennaker, is one of the few women leading equipment manufacturing companies in the United States.

Despite the obstacles of COVID-19 and being a woman in a male-dominated industry, Rennaker is part of the historical, groundbreaking moments that happen every day. Through hard work, Rennaker has climbed the ladder into the top role for the pan manufacturer that specializes in commercial pizza and baking pans, as well as foodservice equipment.

Bake recently interviewed Traci Rennaker about her personal success and the role women play in the business world.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, how do you reflect on the incredible accomplishments that women have achieved in the business world?
Rennaker: There have been significant improvements in the way society views and supports females in positions of authority, although there is still a long way to go. As a mother of 2 daughters, it brings me joy in knowing the expanded opportunities available for women, and excitement in the development of the business world that will come from the unique contributions made by women.
What are highlights of your story?   
My story is one of determination and adversity – something many women in the industry can probably attest, or have experienced. My career actually started managing a deli and restaurant for a regional supermarket chain. My husband passed away, and I was left with the responsibility to care for my three children by myself. I was motivated to do whatever it took to provide the best life for my kids, which included working careers with hostile working environments, working exceptionally long hours, and training myself on industry-specific matters on my own free time to better perform in my career and provide more opportunities for my kids to be successful. From managing a deli and a restaurant, I eventually took positions as a Customer Service Manager for a software reseller, the Director of Customer Service, Sales, and Engineering for a large sheet metal fabrication company, and then as the Director of Customer Service and Sales at LloydPans. Within a few years I was promoted to the role of Vice President, and then President and CEO. We have been through 3 acquisitions, and I have maintained the role of President and CEO. 
You can do anything you set your mind too, as long as you work hard and believe in yourself. I hope females who are transitioning into professional careers can use my story, and several others, as an inspiration to never give up on your goals.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the culture of LloydPans and the Company we have become. Our Company is comprised of some of the most hard working, caring, and team-oriented people I have known in all of my professional career. Everyone is always more than happy to go out of their way to exceed the needs of our customers, implement changes where necessary, and help each other within the organization.  
What factors do you chalk up to the great success you have achieved at LloydPans?
LloydPans is a partner. We approach our business differently in that we don’t view our role in the product development process as that of the traditional supplier-customer relationship. Rather, we are an advocate for our customers. Our goal is always to understand the needs and problems our customers experience, identify the demands of the market, and apply our unique design, engineering, and fabrication processes to create innovative and progressive solutions. As a result of this approach to our business, the focus becomes less on profit and sales, and more on the prosperity and dignity of our customers’ business. Our customers trust and respect our input, and we are viewed as an essential advisor to their business instead of a sales person. The result is a more collaborative work environment where both LloydPans and our customer thrive. 
What are milestones or key achievements over the past challenging year?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been exceptionally challenging to navigate this past year. The number one priority for our company has been, and always will be, the health and well being of our employees. We are most proud of continuing to provide for the health and employment of our staff during the pandemic while meeting excessive market demand. LloydPans had a record-breaking year. We were faced with the challenging task to meet an excessive backlog to supply the countries essential businesses on top of implementing the CDCs guidelines to ensure we can continue to operate our facility without disruption to our customers’ supply channels. This required significant coordination, and almost daily we were dealing with staffing shortages and production scheduling movements. But, as I previously mentioned, I am so proud of the LloydPans culture. Despite these challenges, we were able to fill orders and meet customer’s deadlines without delay. Everyone was more than willing to work extra hours and volunteer to perform tasks outside their normal job responsibilities.  
Where do you believe the industry goes from here?
I believe in American manufacturing. Manufacturing in the US gives us the opportunity to pay fair, livable wages to members of our community. It also helps reduce our environmental impact and control logistics and customer lead times. In the future, I believe the industry will be more focused on the integration of technology and robotics to improve manufacturing processes, and will utilize eCommerce and other digital platforms to find new customers