Premier Nutrition Corporation calls itself “the good energy company.” VP of Operations Steve Sernett ’90 says that applies to more than healthy snacks.
Culture. Community. Caramel shakes. Essentials for creating a booming business—at least Steve Sernett ’90 thinks so. For the past 10 plus years, Sernett has helped Premier Nutrition Corporation (PNC) grow from a small, 10-person operation to a company of 125 and counting.
Sernett hails from Iowa, son to the owner of a small chain of department stores. He took that business savvy to Santa Clara, where he studied in the Retail Management Institute before finding his way to PNC as a professional years later.
Premier Nutrition Corporation might not be in your vocabulary but many of its top confections likely are—PowerBar, Premier Protein, Supreme Protein, and Joint Juice. PNC calls itself “the good energy company” bringing healthy products to the market. As VP of Operations, Sernett is responsible for bringing that good energy to his team of 30.
“Everything we do reflects our good energy culture, whether it’s how we work together as a team, how we work with our suppliers and our customers, how we interact,” Sernett said. “When you’re in the product supply business, there are times when you’re working at all hours of the day to ensure that product continues to get produced and it’s getting produced in the right way.”
He says keeping people motivated while working hard all comes down to communication—between himself, his team, and external partners. There has to be a commitment to delivering on lofty goals and that means figuring out who can do a little bit more to make sure the team is successful.
Sernett keeps his team close by treating the office as a community. He particularly enjoys Monday morning protein boosts, where the entire company gets together for half an hour to talk big initiatives and big successes—personal and professional. There’s even a bell that gets rung whenever the team has a success.
“It’s those types of things that make me feel like I’m very lucky to be where I am,” Sernett said. “Maintaining the culture here and the growth are really what I try to focus on every day.”
Sernett credits Santa Clara for inspiring him to team up with a company conscious of community. PNC’s smaller size invites an environment where impact ripples farther and wider—which is what drew him to Santa Clara in the first place.
“The Retail Management Institute was a big help,” Sernett said. “Through internships and exposure to leaders from different retail organizations, it took college life and helped me transition it into a career.”
His favorite energy-boosting snack? Caramel shakes, of course. He credits the shakes for much of the company’s growth, so it's only natural they’re his go-to.
But even tastier is working a job he loves. Amidst these new launches, like their plant bar, PNC as a company is expanding in size and scope. They’re already on the hunt for a new office, one that Sernett hopes doesn’t abandon the scrappy feel of a start-up.
Sernett wants to keep a company culture of open floor plans, discussion areas and, most importantly, bell ringing for Monday morning protein boosts.