Southwest Airlines is dedicated to championing diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout all aspects of our business. We are on a journey and we continue to evaluate our current practices, listen to feedback from our Employees and Customers, and look for ways to drive our inclusion journey forward.
Our Supplier Diversity program is one of the many ways we’re working hard to focus on equity. We asked Michelle Fourcand, Manager Enterprise Supply Chain Management for her thoughts on diverse suppliers. “It is important to have diverse suppliers and our Supplier Diversity program to cultivate inclusive procurement practices that drive competition, and help Southwest capture the most value at the lowest cost.”
This LGBTQ Pride Month, we’re excited to celebrate one of our LGBTQ-owned suppliers, King Nut.
“King Nut’s products have played a significant role in Southwest history—most notably the peanuts, but they were also responsible for our pretzels,” Michelle continued. “King Nut now supplies the Snack Mix served onboard, which launched in 2020. King Nut products mean Hospitality to our Customers. They signify a gesture of gratitude and help differentiate our onboard offering through Southwest-branded packaging.”
Marty Kanan, President and CEO of King Nut, shares, “King Nut has been honored to be Southwest’s snack supplier for the past 20 years since 2001. From peanuts to pretzels to the new snack mix that launched in 2020, we’ve been by Southwest’s side. The bags of peanuts we produced for Southwest were so iconic and so beloved by passengers and employees alike, that they’ve even been transformed into Halloween costumes. That’s showing your Spirit!”
Halloween costume made out of bags of peanuts. Halloween costume made out of bags of peanuts.
Marty continues, “Southwest is a favorite Customer of ours—almost family. It’s a pleasure to work with People so friendly and nice, who obviously both enjoy and are good at their jobs. We’ve enjoyed every step of the long-term relationship, from jointly designing each new snack and package through to seeing the smiles on Passengers’ faces when the Flight Attendant hands out the snacks.”
Southwest Flight Attendant Strategic Team visiting King Nut September 18, 2019 Southwest Flight Attendant Strategic Team visiting King Nut September 18, 2019
“I’ve had the privilege of working with the King Nut family for years and am personally so grateful to have them as one of our valued suppliers,” said Sonya Lacore, Vice President Inflight Operations. “I’ve had the privilege to see firsthand how much they love and appreciate the partnership with Southwest Airlines and how much they value our Employees. I know our Flight Attendants take great pride in serving snacks that are produced by suppliers from all backgrounds and experiences. We are proud to work with King Nut, an LGBTQ-owned Company, and I am incredibly proud of the work our Supply Chain Department does to verify and work with diverse suppliers.”
Marty Kanan shared, “Supplier diversity is very important to us. As an LGBTQ-owned Company, we believe part of our mission is to help other diverse suppliers grow and succeed. Having a diverse supplier base strengthens the total supply chain and improves the quality of product available to all Customers.”
Marty Kanan, President and CEO of King Nut Marty Kanan, President and CEO of King Nut
About King Nut
King Nut Company was founded in 1937 in Cleveland, Ohio, by Earl Balliette, his wife, Edna, and her brother—engineer and consultant—Mike Krempa. The company roasted and packaged fresh nuts for local taverns, restaurants, and grocery stores. In the early years, Earl ran the routes himself and was the mastermind of creating the route system for King Nut. Over the years, they established a route system where they had a fleet of small delivery trucks that delivered their goods.
Fast forward 84 years: staff has grown to 425 people, production and distribution has moved to a 400,000 square foot complex in Solon, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, items supplied have expanded to include pretzels, snack mixes, dried fruit, and candy as well as nuts, and distribution has spread around the globe. King Nut today can produce over 750 million individual units of snacks per year and roast over 75 million pounds of nuts per year.
The Kanan family, Mike, Marty, and Matt, purchased King Nut from the original founders in 1989, when it had only 30 employees, and have grown the company to its present size and expanded into new markets, including airlines.
King Nut has a strong focus on environmental sustainability. Over the last decade it’s reduced its carbon footprint by 38% and reduced weight in its packaging by 3 million pounds, which would have ended up in landfills. King Nut recycles over 1 million pounds of materials per year.
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Memorial Day is an important time to reflect and give thanks to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
I have the privilege of working with our Southwest Airlines Military Ambassadors. They are peer-to-peer mentors to our service members, veterans, and military spouses, and they are dedicated to creating an inclusive Culture where those who have served or are currently serving can thrive within Southwest Airlines. To learn what Memorial Day means to each of them, I asked our Military Ambassadors to share their perspectives.
“Memorial Day has always had a deep meaning for me. I wouldn’t have been able to join the military and serve if not for the men and women who’ve dedicated and sacrificed their life’s work and lives. When I was on active duty, we observed it with military fanfare. Since I’ve retired, I usually get with the base in Fort Worth to see what they are doing. I know many families use it as a weekend for getting together, but our family does not celebrate Memorial Day. I am the only one in my family who has served, but I have lost a few close friends while serving and, sadly, a few more since I’ve retired.” –Jeni Centeno, Senior Learning Producer, SWA U
“I was fortunate to only have ‘known of’ fellow members making the ultimate sacrifice during their service and not having to endure the loss of a close friend or family member. I am part of the generations of my family members who have served from uncles, fathers-in-laws, sons, daughters, nephews, and husbands. To this day, we all have so much to be thankful for because of those that served and died for our country.
Our freedoms continue today because of those that loved our country and us. Even today, with all the upheaval surrounding us, there are our military brothers and sisters continuing to protect us.
For all the wars and conflicts behind us, are great ‘warriors’ that fought for our freedom. As that fight continues today, we will suffer more losses and can only pray the freedoms we live by will continue because these great men and women gave all.
So for us, Memorial Day is a day when our family talks about the history and about those that fought while serving. We hope that sharing about all these wars will help the next generation understand the losses made so you can live a life of freedom. We do not want our young ones to forget where all this came from and at such a high cost.
It’s our day to pray for those we lost in the military and thank them for the freedoms we live with, today.” –Jackie Widacki, Supervisor Inflight Standards Audit, Inflight
“Memorial Day is a time to remember the ones who paid the ultimate price. I observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries where we laid our friends to rest and visiting friends that you’ve served with and remembering good times.” –Juan Milo, Instructor, SWA U
“I remember waiting in a parking lot outside of my car shortly after returning from Desert Shield/Desert Storm and a gentleman wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat came up to me. He saw that I was wearing my USS San Jacinto ball cap and he asked ‘Sailor, did you just come back from over there (Iraq)?’ I responded, ‘Yes sir!’ He shook my hand and thanked me for my service. I, in turn, thanked him for his sacrifices. We talked and he told me about when he returned from Vietnam and how badly he was treated. How badly they were all treated. Since that day, I’ve taken on a higher level of gratitude for men and women who gave me a better life as a civilian and as a sailor. Memorial Day, to me, is thanking and remembering those before me who laid the groundwork of what it meant to sacrifice and serve The United States of America. I’m humbled to have benefitted from all our military brothers’ and sisters’ sacrifices.
Each year, I ride my bike over 20 miles from my house to the Memorial Day event at the Albuquerque, NM Veterans Memorial to remind myself of those sacrifices and to remember. I have not lost a family member personally but the loss of one military member in service to our country is still a loss to my bigger family.” –Jose Cruz, DEN Flight Attendant
“To me, Memorial Day is a day of reflection. It is an opportunity to reflect on the many servicemen and women who have lost their lives in honor of our country. I also take the time to reflect on the many service members who may have detrimental injuries, both visible and invisible.
I generally don’t make any specific plans for Memorial Day. Throughout the day, I have several moments of silence and reflection.
I have never lost a ‘loved one’ while they were serving, however, we lost several of our fellow service members during my time in Iraq which had a huge impact on me.” –Ro Thomas, Supervisor Inflight Standards Audit, Inflight
“Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who have died while serving their country, particularly those who died in battle. I’m very fortunate to be able to say that I have not personally lost a loved one while they were serving in the armed forces.
To observe Memorial Day, my husband and I participate in the annual Memorial Day 5K/10K in Houston.” –Caren Eaton, Assistant Manager Base Operations, Inflight
No matter what your plans are this Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.
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