Dandelion Chocolate Website
Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory in San Francisco’s Mission District. We make chocolate from only two ingredients, cocoa beans and cane sugar, and travel to origins as often as we can to build good, trusting relationships with the producers who grow and ferment the beans we buy.
Our tools and techniques include assembling and utilizing modified industrial chocolate processing equipment to meet our small batch, artisanal methods, and because of this, we rely on skilled mechanics that are comfortable working off the OEM path & trailblazing a bit to help us hit perfection. Today, we are seeking a key team member whose technical expertise will further our goal to make some of the best chocolate in the world.
About the Role
While the chocolate steals the spotlight, there’s an elaborate ecosystem of motors, gears, filters, and fan belts that must be in tip-top shape to see beautifully tempered chocolate bars realized. Reporting to our Director of Production, this role works shoulder-to-shoulder with the Chocolate Production, and Confections teams to ensure the roasters, winnowers, ball mills, refiners, foiling, and labeling machines are safe and humming. With a designated workshop, you know the ins and outs of each machine, maintain repair logs, inventory key spare parts, follow-up with international machine makers when we have questions, uphold lock in/out procedures, oversee proactive upkeep, and create safety guards for production machinery across two factories and one warehouse location within 6-8 blocks of each other.
Our ideal candidate brings positivity, love of machines, penchant for problem solving, and unwavering dedication to safety. It’s rare that a team member comes to you when everything is working perfectly so it’s important to have a calm, positive spirit when pipes burst or a critical machine goes down. There are many types of people who would be successful in this role. Our previous team member was a retired mechanic with a love of the factory and team environment. We look forward to meeting you and seeing how your talents enrich our beautiful public-facing factory in San Francisco.
Equal Opportunity Employer. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, women, gender non-conforming people, persons with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ people, veterans, and adults of all ages are strongly encouraged to apply. In accordance with the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records for employment.
A Day in the Life:
Your morning starts alongside our Chocolate Makers at the 16th Street factory where they gather to review the team’s plans. Last week a conveyor belt’s roller wore down and for the first time in a year, the tempering line went offline. Given it’s August, a new part from Italy would have taken weeks to arrive so after careful discussion with the team, you oversaw reconstructing a new part in San Francisco by working with a local, trusted machinist we’ve known for years. Today the team reports all is working well though you always keep your eyes and ears out for anything; a wobble or a high-pitched hum is always investigation-worthy! Back in your workshop, you examine this week’s regular maintenance calendar: vacuum cocoa dust from machine motors to prevent electrical fires. While you do so, you are careful to make sure any of your repairs will not float dust or debris into the air, covering nearby machines or scheduling an off-production time when the chocolate is not flowing. At the end of the day, you’ve been asked to lead this week’s Safety Team meeting demonstrating how to use lock-in/out tags to a Chocolate Makers who joined two weeks ago. Before heading home, you give the machinist a call to let them know the repair is in good shape, thanking them again for their help. You head home, knowing that the factory is in better shape today than it was yesterday.
- Machine maintenance -- Work with tried-and-true chocolate making equipment as well as finicky Italian tempering machines, a restored vintage wrapping machine, and ad hoc R&D prototypes so our teams consistently beat their monthly production goals while being proud of their craft. Make tricky calls on the fly – when is a temporary fix necessary (though rarely ideal!) to meet important goals? When do we buy a new machine rather than continuously make repairs? When this role is going well, there are few surprises and you help maintain a sense of calm, stability, and positivity across the factory floor.
- Safety and food safety -- Oversee lock in/out procedures, machine inspection lists, use a forklift safely, assist with SOPs, perform repairs with factory safety and sanitation in mind, and work on risk mitigation projects. Chocolate is extremely sensitive to dust, moisture, and fumes so be hyper-aware of cleaning chemicals, avoid any maintenance procedure that might introduce water or excessive moisture into the chocolate batches, and help maintain our high bar for chocolate quality. If you see any potentially unsafe actions or environments, address or escalate the issues immediately until the situation is resolved.
- Workshop oversight -- Maintain a clean, organized, and inventoried workshop with tools and spare parts that are well-maintained while keeping any dangerous chemicals, potentially unsafe tools, or expensive equipment locked down so that the right tools are always in the right place for only properly trained technicians.
- Systems & processes -- When new machines come online, research them, oversee the installation, create new inspection checklists, assist with safety procedures, develop safe-guarding equipment, and oversee a maintenance schedule and repair log so that the machines are dependable for years to come with zero injuries. Develop accessible, visible maintenance schedules to avoid production downtime. Oversee a maintenance log recording each machine’s history with reporting to understand each machine’s uptime and maintenance expense. Regularly meet with Production Director and exec team members to provide status updates and adjust maintenance priorities depending upon overall strategy.
- Long-term projects -- Develop a system for addressing longer-term projects that might not get attention otherwise so that approximately 15% of your day-to-day is working towards future-thinking projects. Those projects might include building a safety guard for a wrapping machine, reaching out to a gearbox manufacturer to see if a synthetic lubricant would require less maintenance, or simply working with a chocolate maker who you overheard ask, “why aren’t the beans moving very fast today.” Our goal is that our factory is in better condition than it was the prior year.
- Vendors and partnerships -- You’re the first to admit when a project is outside your area of expertise and you have a network of trusted professionals (especially electrical!) to turn to for tricky issues. You oversee vendor work as necessary to ensure that the root issues are addressed and that the repair bills are kept in check.
- Team player -- Be sensitive about working in another team’s workspace including cleaning up after projects and leaving notes when a temporary fix is necessary so that the team understands how to work around unfinished projects. Proactively follow up with team members to see if a safety guard or repair is working out for them. Be a welcoming presence in the factory that team members want to work with again and again.
- On-call -- While rare, be available on-call to assist with chocolate production emergencies. If after-hours work is necessary to avoid disrupting production, adjust working hours accordingly to avoid excessive overtime.
- Other tasks as necessary
- Machine know-how -- Extraordinary technical background with technical certification and prior experience working with machines and shop equipment. You have a generalist background that includes mechanical, electrical, plumbing, machinery, ideally in an industrial or professional shop setting where efficient troubleshooting is essential to meet production schedules.
- Critical thinking -- Extraordinary problem-solving skills. You componentize problems to address issues more readily and use rigorous logic methods to challenge your initial instincts and hypotheses.
- Physical strength -- This role requires lifting 50 lbs or more to service equipment using appropriate PPE and forklifts when necessary. Some repairs may require maintaining an awkward position for prolonged periods.
- Communication -- Strong communication skills. You can break down a complex issue into plainspoken English that can be easily understood by anyone in the organization.
- Tech skills -- Your office skills will require Google Spreadsheets, Google Docs, and Trello to maintain maintenance logs, review blue prints & schematics, and to keep documents easily accessible and up-to-date. Your documentation will require taking pictures and uploading them into Google Docs or tools for easy reference. As necessary, pick up new software tools as necessary for the business.
- Factory experience -- Previous experience working in a production line or in an industrial food setting is a huge plus.
depending on experience, $80-90k
The benefits and perks continue beyond a robust chocolate education. Dandelion Chocolate constantly invests in our people and culture. All team members receive heavily subsidized medical, vision, and dental benefits as well as the option to enroll in our 401k program. All team members receive paid vacation time, holiday pay, and paid sick time. In addition, our team members enjoy commuter benefits, FSAs, chocolate tasting opportunities, and a range of opportunities to grow and develop within the company.
Cover letter Required
Other Application Requirements
Note for Cover Letter: Dandelion is growing and we are invested in employees who take ownership over their role and are interested in contributing in a bigger way with us. You'll stand out from other candidates if you send a short 1-2 paragraph cover letter detailing why you think this role is a potential fit for your long term career. We do our best to respond to all serious candidates within 7-14 days.