Colleague Focus – Reta Schwab

August 17, 2016

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Colleague Focus – Meet Reta Schwab

This edition of our Colleague Focus features Reta Schwab.


Reta serves as the Supply Chain Manager for Mar-Bal and works at our manufacturing plant located in Cuba, Missouri.  Reta recently celebrated her 10 year anniversary with Mar-Bal on July 6.

When we asked Reta what her favorite part of working for Mar-Bal, she stated, “Seeing the direct and immediate impact of my day-to-day work.  If I’m not ‘on point’, then no one is working.  I am responsible for procurement of all raw materials, packaging, manufacturing supplies, and purchased components. One misstep could result in loss of sales for my plant and loss of wages for our employees. It starts with me having all the necessary elements of our products to allow production to proceed. We can’t produce product without raw materials; we can’t ship without packaging and we can’t assemble without all the components.”

In addition Reta explained, “I also LOVE having management’s confidence to allow me to have some fun with my work.  When I worked as the Safety Director we would have safety awards andReta 001 (3) one year a Halloween Party complete with a costume contest and chili supper. For the last 10 years I have dressed up for Halloween and dressed as an elf for Christmas. One year members of our Corporate Office were here at Christmas and got the honor of seeing me play my Polka Cello!  Mar-Bal allows me some flexibility and freedom within my job description to cross lines into other departments when needed or requested.  I have got a LOT of ‘mad skills and experience’ just waiting for the opportunity to demonstrate.”

We then asked Reta to share her proudest moment at Mar-Bal. “Probably December 2007.  I had been a ‘Marbalian’ for a full year.  I approached my Plant Manager, Jeff Isom, with an idea to enhance our employee’s Christmas Holiday season and hopefully employee morale.  I wanted to Reta Christmas 001solicit gifts from our suppliers and wrap them for Christmas so the shift foreman could distribute them at the Christmas dinners on each shift.  Permission was granted and this has become a Christmas tradition every single year.  The first year was probably my proudest since this was not something our employees had ever experienced.  They were very appreciative and surprised and I was thrilled to be able to ‘give back’ to those who work so hard all year long.  Last year at the height of ‘cooking season/our busiest time of the year’ I was able to secure 120 gifts from suppliers so that each employee was awarded a gift.  It’s a challenge to find the time to notify the suppliers, get the gifts collected, wrapped, ensure I have enough for EACH employee and distribute them in time but it’s worth it every single year.”

Reta further outlined her proudest moment as, “Every day is my proudest day.  Every day that I make a difference for my plant, every day that I solve a problem, every day I trade a day’s work for a day’s pay and set an example for my children teaching them to be honest hardworking productive citizens.”

When asked how Mar-Bal has helped Reta with her career development, she said, “I wasn’t hired for purchasing work and had no experience at all, but since S&E wasn’t going to be a full time job and they needed me to purchase raw materials for BMC, I said I’d give it a shot. Now I rock…I would have NEVER pursued a purchasing position but I’ve learned the best time to take a job is when one is offered and I’ve NEVER ran from a challenge or a fight.  I’ve discovered that I like purchasing; I think next I might like to be an astronaut.”

We asked the Global Purchasing and Sourcing Manager for Mar-Bal , Nick Scolaro about Reta and he shared, “Reta keeps our MO plant full of the right material at the right time.  She understands the importance of her role to keep our presses running and customers on schedule.  It is a true pleasure working with Reta.  She is a decisive and independent team member who does her job with a smile and an occasional joke or two.  I dare anyone to leave the Missouri plant without being positively affected by Reta’s charismatic nature.”

Upon graduation from high school, Reta briefly attended East Central College and decided that college was not for her. She said with a smile, “The curriculum interfered with my social agenda.” Reta joined the US Navy in 1984 serving proudly for 11 years and was trained as a metrologist. USSCapeCodAD43Reta explained, “I served aboard 2 ships and became oxygen systems certified allowing me to transfer to Pearl Harbor Hawaii where I certified submarine systems and started my family.  I earned my Kuwait Liberation medal during the Gulf War aboard the USS Cape Cod and was featured in Sasebo, Japan in a local article on women in the U.S. Navy.”

We asked Reta about her favorite meal and she shared, “Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, cream corn, buttermilk biscuits, 12 pack of cold beer topped off with a wedge of chocolate cake with peanut butter icing.”

When asked about the person that she admires, Reta said, “My mother. She was widowed as a young woman when I was 1 year old and my sister was 2.  She lost her husband to a heart attack while he was unloading the furniture at their new home in Missouri.  She was a drill instructor in the Marine Corps and was tough as nails.  She NEVER took a penny of charity and raised us girls to be hard working productive citizens.  She never remarried and often worked 2 jobs to keep us fed and clothed.”

We asked Reta about her favorite vacation spot and she shared, “Anna Maria Island, Florida.  I’ve traveled the entire western hemisphere but Anna Maria Island beaches are exceptional.  I’ve NEVER seen the sky so blue, the water so green or my SKIN so red.”

Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Reta!

We are very proud to call you a colleague.