OUR TEAM

Bringing Your Passion to Purpose

Our Experience

Our team of consultants come from diverse backgrounds and have unique skills to support you. We have Operations Experts, Food Scientists, Quality Experts, and Engineering Associates.  Our extended network includes partnerships with marketing, strategy, and sales consultants, a Fractional CFO and bookkeepers. FoodOps provides solutions tailored to our clients’ specific points in their growth journey.

John Castillo

President | Visionary

Asa Bielenberg

Partner | Integrator 

Bill Long

Sr. Project Manager

Nayan Shukla

Sr. Project Manager

Krista Heilman

Lead Technician

Craig Swiecichowski

Project Manager | LEAN Expert

Jim Costello

Founder | Advisor

Craig Vanderwaal

Food Science Advisor

Dan Devenport

Safety and Quality Expert

Ryan Bachman

Process and Beverage Advisor

Lily Schimke

Food Science Advisor

Debbie Stewart

CFO and Business Advisor

Our Values

RESPECTFUL

We always put the client first and are customer service oriented.

OWNERSHIP

We have a passion for our craft.

COLLABORATIVE

We leverage our network and collective experience to creatively solve problems.

HUMILITY

We only make promises we can keep.  

AGILE

We are quick to pivot to focus on the client’s changing priorities.

John Castillo

President | Visionary

John Castillo is an expert project manager with over 25 years of experience in corporate operations, leadership, management, and training. John’s leadership style emphasizes team building, mentoring, and cross-functional alignment at both the lab and plant levels. John is one of the founding board members of Naturally Minnesota
His extensive background runs the gamut of corporate manufacturing operations, with a broad spectrum of corporations ranging from small entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. He has worked full time and/or consulted for the United States Army, Boston Scientific, Malt-O-Meal, Post Consumer Brands, and Angie’s Boomchickapop. John’s expertise includes manufacturing startups; research and development platforms; FDA-regulated manufacturing; quality assurance; and training for both skills development and team building.

Asa Bielenberg

Partner | Integrator 

Asa Bielenberg is a proactive project manager with a diverse background in food production and engineering, specializing in advising CPG entrepreneurs on manufacturing strategy and operational scalability. Embracing a positive pragmatism, he leads projects with a holistic approach, drawing on my experience in R&D, process design, commissioning, and industrial controls. He values decisiveness in entrepreneurs, emphasizing that any decision is better than indecision.
Asa’s consulting philosophy is grounded in simple principles: show up, take notes, ask good questions, and follow through. He believes in the power of connections and, if unable to assist directly, he’s eager to connect entrepreneurs with the right resources through our team or external partnerships.

Bill Long

Sr. Project Manager

Bill Long brings his considerable manufacturing and management expertise to the FoodOps team. He is a veteran mechanical engineer, manager, and manufacturing process professional with over 35 years of experience. Bill served in a variety of positions during his 27-year career at 3M, in both engineering and management roles, including: Project and Process Engineer; Manufacturing Operations Manager for the Home Care Division; Global Manufacturing Director for the Construction and Home Improvement Markets Division; U.S. Supply Chain Operations Director; and Business Transformation Director. While at 3M, Bill established new manufacturing plants and oversaw manufacturing operations in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Mexico, and other countries. After retiring from 3M in 2016, Bill was engaged by Hed Cycling Products to set up their Enterprise Resource Planning system, working with both management and shop floor teams.

Nayan Shukla

Sr. Project Manager

Nayan brings a wealth of diverse experiences across operations management, process engineering, and B2B marketing and sales. He spent eight years with General Mills in its supply chain organization, with roles across operations team leading, quality, continuous improvement, and process engineering. Notably, he led the design, installation, and start-up of several multi-million dollar capital projects in plants across North America. He has a deep understanding of food science and chemistry principles, manufacturing scale-up, CIP system design and implementation, and food safety. After taking some time off to pursue an MBA, Nayan moved into a marketing role with Ecolab. There, he partnered closely with sales and R&D to grow Ecolab’s Institutional business. He developed an intimate knowledge of restaurant and foodservice operations to help Ecolab’s Institutional customers optimize the safety, cleanliness, and efficiency of their operations.

Krista Heilman

Lead Technician

Krista has been an Operations Technician with Food Ops since August 2021. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and has completed accounting coursework at Metro State University. She has been working as a controller for a restaurant group since 2015. Prior to that she worked in management at a co-op grocery in St Paul. She has experience in customer service, natural foods, human resources, and accounting. In her free time Krista enjoys running, trying out new recipes, perfecting her gluten free baking, and reading. She also has a small business for her hand embroidered cards and art.

Craig Swiecichowski

Project Manager | LEAN Expert

Craig Swiecichowski, a seasoned professional with 15+ years in lean manufacturing, ascended from a production operator to roles like team leader and manager. Intrigued by the Toyota Production System early on, he championed waste reduction and continuous improvement. Craig successfully implemented lean principles across organizations, yielding substantial cost savings. Proficient in tools like Value Stream Mapping and Kanban, he transformed manufacturing operations. As a qualified project manager, Craig boasts a 5-year track record of on-time, within-budget project delivery, fostering effective relationships with stakeholders. Beyond corporate roles, Craig, alongside his wife Susan, owned and operated a thriving restaurant for 16 years, showcasing his prowess in menu planning, marketing, and financial management.

Jim Costello

Founder | Advisor

Jim Costello has over three decades of experience in the food manufacturing industry. As Founder and President of FoodOps LLC, Jim oversees all company operations; facilitates new partnerships and manufacturing relationships for clients; and develops successful quality control programs and procedures.
Under Jim’s leadership, FoodOps has enabled entrepreneurs to successfully commercialize dozens of products. Prior to founding FoodOps, Jim served as a consultant (2009-11) and then Vice President of Operations for Angie’s Boomchickapop (2011-16) in Mankato, Minnesota, guiding the company from a $1 million startup to a major producer grossing $80 million. At Angie’s, Jim developed and launched new products (including the company’s top seller); oversaw the entire supply chain; and directed the Quality and Food Safety programs.
Before joining Angie’s, Jim held a variety of positions with companies such as Pillsbury, the Service Engineering Group, and Boston Scientific. He has directed award-winning Research & Development Teams and successfully managed multimillion-dollar budgets.

Craig Vanderwaal

Food Science Advisor

Craig Vanderwaal brings 30 years of food science experience to the Food Ops team. Over the span of his career, he has worked with such industry giants as General Mills, Cargill, and Malt-o-Meal/Post Holdings, but also with smaller companies like Ronnoco Coffee in St. Louis, Missouri. At General Mills, Craig helped to develop many popular products, such as Totino’s pizza and snack rolls, Chex Mix, and various breakfast cereals. He has worked on research and development; product testing; cost savings in the manufacturing process; quality assurance; and training employees in GMP, HAACP, and quality assurance. As a consultant, Craig has overseen the development, testing, and marketing of new products, as well as advised on institutional culture issues in various companies, helping to improve productivity and company morale. Craig is interested in using his experience to mentor new and innovative food entrepreneurs.

Dan Devenport

Safety and Quality Expert

Dan Devenport is a food safety and quality assurance specialist with over a decade of experience. Dan’s expertise is in quality management systems and supply chain development. He is also an accomplished trainer able to work with a variety of audiences, from the individual to 100-person seminars. He holds multiple certifications, including HACCP, SQF, and FSPCA Certification in FSMA Preventive Controls. Prior to joining the FoodOps team, Dan served as an in-plant Quality Assurance Manager and as a Regulatory, Food Safety, and Quality Manager at Angie’s Boomchickapop. In the latter position, he oversaw all the company’s policy, procedural, supplier and co-manufacturing areas. Dan assisted in building Angie’s from a 19-employee, one-shift company into a national brand with multiple production, warehousing, and distribution sites. He played an integral role in creating Angie’s SQF system and cultivating fruitful relationships with suppliers.

Ryan Bachman

Process and Beverage Advisor

Ryan is an entrepreneur, strategic innovator and supply chain leader with expertise developing, commercializing and supporting CPG brands. He brings 12+ years of manufacturing, strategy and market research experience. He is a subject matter expert in natural food chemistry, process and product development.
Ryan’s track record includes creating and strategically scaling innovative, clean label, natural and organic products from ideation through commercialization. A proactive leader who is focused on knowledge transfer and coaching up his teams, while driving strategic operational priorities and long-term partnerships.

Lily Schimke

Food Science Advisor

Lily Schimke is a self-motivated and driven food scientist with experience in product development, formulations, scale-ups, and quality projects. Lily went to South Dakota State University and graduated in 2020 with a Master of Science in Food Science. Her Masters thesis utilized advanced technology to develop equations in order to rapidly analyze the quality of wheat. At the university, Lily worked hands-on in an analytical food quality & development lab and is knowledgeable in the subject of food analysis. Additionally, Lily worked for a salad dressing company and used her knowledge of food chemistry to improve shelf stability, lower production cost, and produce clean label products. During her time in college, she competed as a NCAA D1 swimmer, which sparked her interest in the nutritional aspects of food. Lily has a special interest in functional foods—food that has been formulated to give the consumer additional benefits beyond basic nutrition.

Debbie Stewart

CFO and Business Advisor

Debbie assesses and translates business analytics and finance data into actionable insights, knowledge, and guidance on the financial health and growth potential of the organization. She sees the organization from a holistic perspective and understands the interconnectedness between data, systems, process and infrastructure to set the stage for improvements and growth. She builds strong foundations and advises on business strategy, annual and quarterly planning and forecasting, raising capital, identifying opportunities for growth, managing risk and business challenges, or exit strategy.
Debbie’s approach blends deep business acumen with finance expertise to deliver a higher level of value for my clients. She collaborates closely with business leaders to develop strategy, plans and execution that meet organizational objectives whether to achieve or build financial stability, drive and manage scalable growth, create long-term value, achieve profitability, or position the organization for a material event.