Seizing the Day-to-Day: Petros Levis

By Caliper Team

June 2, 2021
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In 2019, Petros decided to take a sabbatical from a distinguished career leading R&D, sensory manufacturing, quality and operations at such CPG giants as Danone, WhiteWave, General Mills and Pillsbury. He wanted to explore other ways to use his expertise, and was open to a big change. Cannabinoid ingredients, though, “weren’t on the list,” he readily admits. 

But after a conversation over coffee with a former colleague put Caliper on his radar, he was intrigued. Soon after, he joined our company, charged with bringing our manufacturing and quality systems to the next level. More than a year and a half later, he’s proud of the “tremendous strides” the company’s made, even in the face of a worldwide pandemic. “We’ve increased our output fourfold, without adding capital or people,” he says proudly. “What’s really driven us is continuous improvement.”

In this conversation, Petros shares how he’s helping make those improvements happen—and how, deep down, it’s all been kind of fun.  

How does working with cannabinoids compare with the products and ingredients you’ve worked with in the past? 

They’re very different! Especially compared with products I’ve worked with, like milk, ice cream, and beverages. All those industries are very closely regulated and inspected. But cannabinoids, for now, are a largely non-regulated space. We are building some of those regulations ourselves, using federal food regulations as well as those from other states, charting new territory of our own that incorporates the highest standards. 

It’s definitely more challenging, but I’d say it’s more fun.

Cannabinoids, for now ,are a largely non-regulated space….We’re charting new territory of our own, that incorporates the highest standards. ”

What kinds of changes have you implemented since coming on board?   

We’ve changed tremendously in operations. It’s been a process of going through each procedure, making things more efficient and faster, without sacrificing quality. After all, it’s the day-to-day operations that make the biggest difference.  We’ve implemented things like flexible scheduling and cross-training, so that people can easily jump from one process to another as needed, or fill in for someone else if they’re out sick. Having our own internal lab has really given us more flexibility and helped us optimize our processes, too.

We’ve also spent a lot of time on safety, and leveled up our equipment and training—and that’s reflected in the fact that we’ve never had any serious accidents. We’ve delivered on time and met quality standards for each lot produced, every time. We’ve put in the work and our customers, and their brands, have benefited from that.

We’ve delivered on time and met quality standards for each lot produced, every time. We’ve put in the work, and our customers have benefited from that.”

How does your work help customers build their brands?  

We’re directly impacting their brands’ success with the consistent quality of our manufacturing—getting the product to their precise specs, with the quality control and R&D capabilities to make it easier. Take our powder, for example. We’re meticulous about particle size, and because of that we can provide a specific, consistent particle that makes mixing our powder easier, whatever the system. We also provide all the needed documentation up front, including a Certificate of Analysis (COA) in every shipment, so our customers can stay on top of traceability. 

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

Sitting down with and working with people is the most rewarding part of my job, and it’s also the most fun. I take pride in working directly with everyone, from R&D to management to the people on the production floor. I’m a true believer in operating in teams. And, the better our teams are supported, the more we’re able to accomplish. We spend a minimum of eight hours together every day, so we all need to be there for each other. 

As an essential business here in Colorado, we kept operating throughout the pandemic—and you helped make that happen, even though you’d only just started working here.  Can you share what that was like? 

Yes, we were only closed for a week! And there were some days when I was the only one here from management. I was forced to learn the operations faster than I wanted, but ultimately there was a silver lining. I saw the resilience in the people here, especially their ability to be innovative and thoughtful.  We got the job done and had some fun! 

Ultimately, [COVID] had a silver lining. I saw the resilience in the people here, especially their ability to be innovative and thoughtful. ”

And as an organization, we were spectacular. At a time when we didn’t have much information on how to operate safely with COVID, we had to make some tough decisions. We faced it head on; we required masks before it was mandatory, for example. The trust and the camaraderie that developed really held things together. 

And today, with most of us now fully vaccinated, we’re getting back to normal. Happily, we’re welcoming back clients and potential clients for in-person visits. We just ask that you wear a mask, so that we don’t have to ask the question of whether or not you’re vaccinated.  If you volunteer the information, feel free to take it off. 

You’ve lived in a lot of places. How does living in Colorado stack up?  

Colorado has so much natural beauty, and some of the best parks in the world! I grew up in Greece, in the mountains along the coast, so having the mountains nearby means a lot to me.

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