Posted on Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Julia Warhola Thompson '13, a business administration and history graduate, navigated her career from BNY Mellon to Kraft Heinz before embarking on her own entrepreneurial journey with Lunchline, Inc. Crediting her college experience to developing her versatile skill set, helping merge her passions for history and business, and pushing her beyond her networking comfort zone, her current role emerged unexpectedly through a temporary position that led her to create her own company.
Tell me about your life following graduation.
After graduation I worked at BNY Mellon for about a year and a half, then took a role at Kraft Heinz in 2015. The company went through a lot of changes and I was in quite a few different roles between 2015 - 2017. I started out in foodservice, then moved to the retail side of the business for about six months before I came back to foodservice in a completely new role. I learned so much in my two years there.
In 2017, I started working for Lunchline. I ended up purchasing the company in 2019. I now have two part-time employees and look forward to continuing to grow the business. As for home life, I have been married for eight years and have three kids under the age of five. I live outside of Pittsburgh on a few acres with two Great Danes, a few goats, chickens and ducks. I call it my own personal circus. Life can be wild, but I wouldn’t change a thing!
How did your time at Westminster help to prepare you for your current career, activities, friends, etc.?
I attended every networking event I could, and it had a huge impact on what I am doing today. The alumni gave great advice during panel discussions, and I enjoyed making a lot of different connections. It helped me to become comfortable with introducing myself to professionals and striking up conversation. I was a double major in business and history and the skill set that I gained made an impact on my ability to read and write professionally. I think it also helped me stand out during the interview process.
How did you get into your current role? What passion lead you to doing this?
I moved to a new position at Kraft Heinz because the retail business was moving to Chicago and I did not want to move. I took a role in foodservice that was supposed to be temporary. I was happy it was temporary because at first I did not enjoy it. Little did I know, it would lead me to eventually owning my own business. As part of the role, I worked with a consultant who manage the USDA donated foods program on behalf of Kraft Heinz. I built a good relationship with the consultant and I ended up leaving Kraft Heinz in 2017 to work for her (the company was Lunchline). She retired in 2019 and I purchased the business. It was the perfect apprenticeship that I did not anticipate.
Tell me about your business. Who is your primary target and what does it help them accomplish?
My target clients are foodservice manufacturers that participate in the USDA Donated Foods Program for the K-12 segment. We manage nearly every aspect of the program for our clients. It is a niche market and many companies hire an entire department to manage the program. If you are a Lunchline client, we are your commodity department.
What three big lessons have you learned in your years of being an entrepreneur?
What are you most proud of from your time as a student? From your time after college?
I am most proud of the history capstone project that I worked on. I learned so much from Dr. Martin and I will never forget it. After college, I am most proud of buying my business. It was a bit scary to leave a large company and work for a small company (1.5 employees), however it was the best decision I have ever made.
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
Aside from being related to Andy Warhol (my grandpa's brother), I have always viewed myself as an entrepreneur. Through high school and college, I would buy treasures from garage sales and flea markets and flip them to sell online. I don’t have time to do the selling anymore, but I still find time for the buying.