A Conversation With: Michelle RondinelliCo-owner and president, Kitchen Kettle Foods
Michelle Rondinelli, 41, is part of the third generation of ownership of Kitchen Kettle Village in Lancaster County.
She is president and a co-owner (with her father, Mike Burnley) of Kitchen Kettle Foods. She previously was on the board of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau, now Discover Lancaster, and is currently a member of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce executive committee.
Rondinelli earned a bachelor’s degree in business management, with a double minor in marketing and human resource management, from York College.
She lives in Manheim Township with her husband of 17 years and their 7-year-old daughter and 6-year-old triplets – identical girls and a boy.
Q: Who has served as a mentor to you in your career?
A: My dad and I own the company together now and definitely he’s been a mentor. He’s more of an introvert and I’m more of an extrovert. We balance each other really nicely. He’s taught me a lot about business and negotiating and the pace we grow at. It’s very conservative, but we’re also a very solid company. I worked in the business when I was 9; I started bussing tables. I grew up going to work with my dad, and our offices are next to each other and I’m still able to bounce ideas off of him.
How can women in business find mentors, especially when it may not be intuitive?
It’s deciding to surround yourself with people who challenge you, whether it’s your social circle or through your church or volunteering. I don’t know that the mentoring always needs to be for the next thing in your career, it can come from a personal side too. Surround yourself with people who help you grow personally and also professionally.
A year ago I participated in the chamber’s women in business mentoring program. It’s an amazing program for juniors in high school. They think they know what they want to do, and they get paired up with a mentor, they’re able to create different job-shadowing opportunities. It’s a great way for them to say, ‘I thought I wanted to do this, I’ve experienced it for a day and maybe it’s not really what I want to do.’ Some of our managers at Kitchen Kettle have mentees now and are so excited about it.
You are involved with a number of community organizations, including the executive committee of the Lancaster chamber. Why is this service important?
One of the values we’ve had for a long time is community and, watching my parents volunteer, it’s just important that we are able to give back. From a chamber standpoint, I see them as the voice for the business community. We’re addressing issues in advocacy, workforce development and connecting people. Those are all things I know I’ve needed over the years, and it’s just been a good fit to be part of that organization and continue to make the business community strong to help the county be successful.
What is your favorite part of Kitchen Kettle Village?
We just rolled out a new vision, mission and values, and just had an offsite leadership retreat. Our new vision is spreading happiness. We have this great group of people who are leaders in the company and they were doing a lip-sync contest, dancing and people had to wear their favorite concert t-shirt. There’s just absolute comfort with each other. Where else does somebody get to come to work and say my job today is to spread happiness? That’s probably my favorite part, the people part.