Senior leadership team

Shawn Burcham

Shawn Burcham

CEO
Education

Business Administration, Missouri State University
Master’s Degree in Street Smarts

How did you arrive here?

After working in the food industry for several years I gained a great deal of respect for the people in this industry. However, I discovered that I simply wasn’t cut out to work for other people. I investigated many types of businesses and franchises that would offer me the chance to be my own boss. I received a unique opportunity to become a BKI equipment distributor, which was exactly the catalyst I needed to create Champs Chicken. My wife Julie was supportive of the idea even after just having our first daughter (Claudia). Julie had already decided to leave her job to stay home with Claudia. It was a risky adventure going from a double income family with no kids to a NO income family with one kid. Our Champs Chicken branded food program has historically catered mainly to supermarkets and convenience stores. Julie and I take a lot of pride in providing opportunities for our 75+ employees and making our Champs Chicken retailers profitable in the food business. It’s been quite the ride so far as we have partnered with over 500 retail locations to date and our eyes are set on 5000.

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients?

Providing overall business advice and helping to build a positive culture.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

I would say my family, my health and my work. My health allows me to be active and work a lot of hours. I truly enjoy my job and the day-to-day challenges associated with the food business and leading a high-growth company. Finally, my primary motivator is my family. I want to be a good provider, a good husband and a good role model for my kids.

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A professional baseball player

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I can stand on my head until it hurts, which frankly comes in handy sometimes as a CEO.

Name a funny/unusual job from your past:

I worked on the cleaning crew at JC Penney for a couple months prior to landing a job with the landscaping crew at Missouri State University.

Darrell Hale

Darrell Hale

VP - Equipment Division
Education

Nicholas Career Center

How did you arrive here?

I owned my own bar and restaurant for 6 years and in beverage and liquor sales to retailers for 20 years. With this position, I was really drawn to the cooking and food opportunities

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients?

People look to me for 3 things: optimizing store layout to get the best ROI, helping retailers select the right equipment, and troubleshooting any equipment problems that come up.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

Family, hunting, and fishing… the order changes at times.

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

Rock and roll singer

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I have a soft heart.

Name a funny/unusual job from your past:

I was the first person to sell, install, run cable TV lines on the telephone poles, and repair TV’s in Belle, Missouri.

Dave Yarbrough

Dave Yarbrough

VP - Field Operations
Education

Truman State University

How did you arrive here?

I cut my teeth in the restaurant business when I began working at Steak ‘n Shake during high school; where I gained a vast amount of experience and knowledge with regard to running successful restaurant/food service outlets. I worked my way up through the ranks with that company, ultimately becoming a District Manager in the Dallas, TX area. After Steak ‘n Shake, I spent several years in food service franchise sales and consulting, which eventually led me to the opportunity with Pro Food Systems. Upon meeting Shawn, I was immediately impressed with the Champs Chicken product, and his vision for the future of his company and its employees. I accepted a position starting as Territory Manager and haven’t looked back. Our unremitting growth, sound company culture, and the high-performing team of professionals we have working for PFS continue to affirm my initial decision to join this company on a daily basis.

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients?

I’m passionate about leading our Field Operations team in helping our retailers become successful and highly profitable operators. Our Territory Managers are THE “secret weapon” to winning in the foodservice segment.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

Family, Cardinals baseball, and Blues hockey. The order may change depending upon the time of year.

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

Oddly enough, from as early on as I can remember, I dreamed of being a Vice President of Field Operations for one of the fastest growing privately-held companies in the United States. Anyone buying that? No? Ok, I actually wanted to be a writer/journalist. Luckily, my position at PFS still affords me the opportunity to utilize these skills; as I’ve been known to compose an epic e-mail every now and then.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I can literally “throw a football clear over them mountains”.

Name a funny/unusual job from your past:

When I was in elementary school, I took selling candy bars door-to-door very seriously. I wore a suit, a necktie, and I wasn’t leaving that porch until I made the sale. Fortunately, it’s rare for someone to call the police on a 7 year old for trespassing.

John Bleidistel

John Bleidistel

Director of Technology
Education

Business Administration, California State University
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification

How did you arrive here?

I was at Yamaha Motors (southern California) when I realized that technology was my passion. I went to school in the evenings to get my Microsoft certification. Consulting brought me to Missouri and I was an IT specialist for over a decade. I had known Shawn (CEO) for years and was watching Pro Food Systems grow from the sidelines. In 2009, Shawn and I were discussing the technology growth and future needs of Pro Food Systems. Shortly after, I was asked to join the team and the rest is history!

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients?

I enjoy dealing with complex systems and solutions. When something goes wrong, I enjoy working through the situation.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

I would have a big problem giving up managing technology. I’ve had my hat in many areas at Pro Food Systems, but the tech side is what I really enjoy.

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A Forest Ranger. I really enjoyed camping with my family every summer and that “outdoorsman” part has still stuck with me to this day.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’m an Eagle Scout. I met that challenge as a teenager and I’ve always been glad I did!

Name a funny/unusual job from your past:

I did a short stint at Farmers Bros Coffee, cutting open gunny sacks of various coffee beans from other countries. It was interesting, however, because you’d occasionally find coins and other artifacts amongst the coffee beans from countries in South America and Africa.

Carla Dowden

Carla Dowden

VP - Human Resources
Education

Business Administration-Management, Missouri State University
Personnel Management Program, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, Michigan State University
Disney Approach to Quality Service and Implemented Quality Care Program

How did you arrive here?

I’ve known Julie and Shawn Burcham for about 7 years, with our oldest daughters playing soccer together. I’ve extensive experience as a human resources professional, working in the manufacturing and health care industries. I had the opportunity to work part-time with PFS, and within 30 days I was offered full time employment.

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients?

I am a people person. I want to make sure I am doing all I can to take care and lead people in the right direction. I may not have all the answers to a particular situation or concern, but you can count on me to find the information by research, resources, and hard work.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

Food—I love food! Seriously, I love my job, I enjoy the people I work with, and the work I do, Shawn truly empowers his employees to excel and provides us with so many opportunities. I am very grateful to work for such a dynamic company. My goal, (along with Shawn’s) is to be recognized as one of “the BEST places to work!”

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

As a kid, I thought I would follow in my father’s footsteps and own and operate a grocery store. Well, it wasn’t to be. Strangely enough, I followed more in my mom’s footsteps in the end.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

During high school, I was All-State in track and cross-country events. More importantly, I have become very passionate about two charitable organizations: the American Heart Association and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. My oldest daughter was born with heart complications, has had 2 surgeries to correct the heart issues and would not be here today without the help of the American Heart Association and Children’s Hospital.

Name a funny/unusual job from your past:

If you want to know how to cut up a whole chicken into pieces, I’m your gal. I worked in the meat department at my father’s grocery store and spent many a day cutting up chickens. Working at Champs Chicken must just be fate! FYI… slicing bologna was another one of my well-honed talents.

Carl Christenson

Carl Christenson

VP - Marketing
Education

Bachelor of Science, University of Nebraska
Masters of Business Administration (Marketing focus), University of Nebraska

How did you arrive here?

Formally trained as a marketer, I started my career after college at Keebler in their foodservice division as a sales person and then as a regional sales manager. Before long, I focused my energies 100% on marketing and growing businesses. After successful stints at the officer-level in the hardware, hobby craft, magazine publishing and educational technology industries, I have finally come full circle. I’m back once again in food service with Champs Chicken and love it.

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients?

Taking complex issues/programs and making them easy to understand and implement.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

1) My Italian bride and family, 2) Nebraska football and 3) Diet Squirt (not necessarily in that order)

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A surgeon. Thank God that didn’t happen. Some unfortunate people would be walking around with forceps closed up inside them.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I was a parade drummer in the Navy “Drum and Bugle Corp” before my service in Viet Nam.

Name a funny/unusual job from your past:

I started my first profitable, growing business at 10-years old as “a worm farmer”… supplying Midwestern fishing resorts with wholesale night crawlers. A fun business for a kid and his pals, but kinda’ slimy.

Trevor Monnig

Trevor Monnig

CFO
Education

Undergraduate Degree, Accounting, Truman State University
MBA, Webster University

How did you arrive here?

I met Shawn, PFS owner and CEO, at a BBQ. Shawn’s passion for the business drew me in immediately. A little research and a lunch meeting later, it was clear that the culture at PFS was a perfect fit for me. The opportunity associated with the 15 year growth pattern sealed the deal for me that it was the right move for me both professionally and personally.

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients?

As a CFO I’m able to give excellent advice on financial matters, but I’m also a really good all-around problem solver. Anytime someone says ‘we can’t do that’ I get excited and jump right in!

What would be impossible for you to give up?

My family and my grill(s).

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A marine biologist. My education quickly took me in a numbers direction in high school when I dreaded biology class and looked forward to calculus day in and day out.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’m often told that I’m not a traditional accountant. My passion is working with people and bringing financial information to all aspects of the business to guide decision making and structured problem solving.

Name a funny/unusual job from your past:

My radio career didn’t take off but I enjoyed being a radio board operator in early high school. I made sure the commercials were properly queued up and played for radio broadcasts of college football and basketball games. Go TIGERS!

Brock Blaise

Brock Blaise

VP - Operations
Education

Bachelor of Science, Missouri State University

How did you arrive here?

OUT OF NOWHERE…Quite some time back I had previously interviewed with Shawn and Carla regarding another position. Then OUT OF NOWHERE one Saturday, I get a phone call from Shawn while playing golf with my two older son’s. Next thing I know I’m sitting in front of the PFS Senior Leadership Team that Monday fielding questions. Awkwardly enough, I had a decision to make between PFS and another company. Do I go with another large global company or PFS whom I share common values and who cares about me as a person? I think you know what I decided.

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients?

Taking a situation or issue that’s emotionally charged and bringing calmness with facts for a healthy resolution.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

My family and the activities we do together to create memories. The responsibility as a Father to teach my four sons how to be and act as a good person.

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A professional football player. Unfortunately, my physical size left me a little short. No pun intended.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I am a severe wise crack. I love bringing humor to intense situations.

Name a funny/unusual job from your past:

During the summers in High School I used to fill vending machines at the Truman office building. If you want to see an angry lady, don’t have the goodies in the vending machines when she wants it…boy howdy!!