Vanilla Industry Questions and Student Advice with Darian Rottmann, National Sales Manager, Lochhead Manufacturing Company

By Melinda Russell

Name: Darian Rottmann

Job title: National Sales Manager   

Company: Lochhead Manufacturing Company

Education: Bachelors Industrial Engineering & Technology


How did you find your way into the vanilla industry?

My 1st professional job was in sales working for a company that was a chemical distributor out of ST Louis, MO. We supplied a frozen dessert company basic commodity chemicals and they were having issues with their vanilla supplier. Lochhead was a company we knew that produced vanillas in St Louis and via that connection we ended up supplying not only this customer but I was blessed to land quite a few customers in my territory. In early 2000 I was called to work with HeartCry Missionary Society as their Missions Coordinator. I worked in this role for 5 years traveling all over the world. On a trip to Africa the Lord showed me he was changing my direction and I truly had no clue where that was going to lead me professionally. I had interviewed for multiple sales positions but nothing seemed right… I just “happened” to run across John Lochheads phone number and not even thinking about a job called him just to catch up. In the time since I’d been out of the market Lochhead MFG had continued to grow and had just moved into a newly built production facility. The plan for Lochhead was once they got in they wanted to bring in an additional sales rep and it was just the right time. Both George and John knew me well and it was the perfect fit. The night before I went to meet with them to discuss the opportunity I told my wife that after the next day I’d be working with Lochhead. For the first time in 6 months I had a true peace about the direction of my life. It may sound crazy but I truly love vanilla. I love the flavor, the nuances, the products where it’s used & everything about it. I’m blessed to be a part of growing a family and working with a great group of folks from production to office to ownership.


What is a typical work day for you?

I work out of a home office so the day begins with a cup of coffee and to the computer and phone. The job includes everything from making new introductions of our company to potential customers, to helping customers solve problems and look at new alternatives depending on their application. I travel as needed and for the most part book my own travel but when I’m not on the road I’m in my office. Unfortunately it also involves lots of paperwork…but that’s the world we live in these days.


What advice do you have for recent graduates?

The greatest piece of advice I’d offer is do the right thing and treat people the way you want to be treated.

First, because it’s right thing to do, but also because you never know who will be writing your next paycheck. When I was working for the chemical distributor and picking up business for Lochhead Manufacturing I had no idea that I was in a way also interviewing for a job. 5+ years later all the work I’d done was the opportunity to my true career. I’ve also experienced the same thing at customers. A young man or woman answering the phones who you’d have thought was the receptionist is actually the owner. They experiences great interaction with a “sales” guy that just treats them right because it’s the right thing to do. In the end multiple times I’ve landed very nice new business and it all happened by simply doing the right thing and treating people the way I’d want to be treated.


What do you look for when scouting young talent?

I actually don’t do the hiring so I don’t scout talent. But it’s very easy to see who will be successful. Those with drive who are willing to learn will generally be very successful. From a sales perspective I’ll tell you what I see lacking so often in today’s world and that is simple follow up. Follow up in sales is the nuts and bolts of the job but so many just do not do it.

What is something that you like everyone to know about vanilla?

Vanilla isn’t just vanilla. Lochhead Manufacturing Company produces literally hundreds of different vanillas and depending on the application we have an option for you. We are vanilla specialists and with our vanillas you can taste the difference!

What is the weirdest product a customer has put your vanilla in?

Hmmm that’s a good question…probably the oddest was an adult novelty… We always say vanilla makes everything better.. Apparently more than we realized 🙂

What is your favorite food to have vanilla in?

It’s got to be super premium ice cream but there are others.  A good granola or high quality yogurt are also pretty high on the list.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Our family lives are very busy. I’m married to my beautiful bride of almost 19 years Heather and we have 3 kids Elizabeth (16), Natalie (12), and Gabe (9). They all play sports and that alone keeps us all very busy. We are also very involved in our Church and mission work that we do in Haiti. My favorite personal time hobby is hunting. I love time in the timber whether it’s Fall and deer hunting or Spring and chasing turkeys. That time with one of my kids or a buddy enjoying all that God has made is very special to me!



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