Haworth College of Business News

Work, Play and WMU!

Kowalczyk, a market manager at General Mills, heads up a team that sells to foodservice distributors as well as non-commercial foodservice operators throughout Michigan, Indiana and northwest Ohio. The team’s customers include K-12 schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and business and industry cafeterias.

With more than 30 years of experience, the seasoned food and consumer package goods professional notes, “The biggest challenge in business is differentiating yourself, your products and your company from the competition. You must be dedicated, constantly and consistently improving to gain share. If the marketplace is not growing, the only means of gaining share is from your competition!”

After graduating from WMU, Kowalczyk worked in the retail supermarket industry but had a strong urge to learn the sales profession. He soon landed his first sales position in the meat industry with John Morrell & Company. Following a two-year stint there, he launched a 24-year career at Unilever where he worked in many different roles, including region manager, region chain account manager and manager of the eastern region chain accounts. Kowalczyk joined General Mills in 2007.

Throughout his career, he has maintained his passion for sports. “I love sports! I am a Detroit Lions season ticket holder; I attend most Bronco football home games and as many Bronco hockey home games as I possibly can.”

Photo of Kowalczyk and Chance

Ed Kowalczyk's 2012 Business Externship Program guest, Bronco running back Dareyon Chance, continues to reap the benefits of Kowalczyk's business experience as Kowalczyk continues to mentor Chance in his educational and professional pursuits. Leading a sales team at General Mills may keep Ed Kowalczyk busy, but the ’78 graduate of the food distribution program also finds time to pursue his passion for sports and WMU.

Kowalczyk’s love for sports does not stop at the sidelines. “I skate in a senior men’s hockey league in Troy called the Michigan Sting. It is great exercise, camaraderie and keeps the competitive spirit alive in all of us. I also enjoy summer boating and watching the sunset from my summer home near Vicksburg (Mich.).”

Kowalczyk’s passion for WMU doesn’t end with sports. He loves all things WMU and is an admissions ambassador, writing short congratulatory notes to admitted students “in the hope that it will sway any student on the bubble to commit to WMU.”

Sharing his love for WMU with prospective students is just one way he supports WMU. He also shares his business expertise with young Business Broncos by hosting an extern each summer through the college’s Business Externship Program [link to http://www.wmich.edu/business/career/externship]. Under Kowalczyk’s supervision, the student spends one-half day with Kowalczyk learning about General Mills and the foodservice industry, followed by one-half day with an account manager selling to the company’s distributor network.  On day two, the student works with a food service customer specialist selling to operators. “I then meet with them over lunch to tie it all together and answer any questions,” says Kowalczyk.