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Jason Dabrow

'08 Agribusiness Management; Chief Operating Officer, Chelten House Products, Inc.
Jason Dabrow, '08 Agribusiness Management

Jason Dabrow, '08 Agribusiness Management

Why I Give

"I look at it as a cycle. People before me were generous enough to give to the college and provide us with the educational resources and amazing professors that made the experience excellent. I feel strongly it’s on us as alumni to do what we can to keep that going, so the future generations have those opportunities, and better."

Jason's Story

From a young age, Jason Dabrow had a feeling a Penn State education was in his future.

"I come from a Penn State family – my mother and sister both went to Penn State," he says. "I loved the school and was pretty set on going there. The fact that it had an agribusiness major was key. I was really impressed with the program when I visited in high school."

Jason was looking for a college that would give him a robust business education – and an agriculturally-focused program was the perfect fit for his goal of working in the food production industry. "My college experience gave me a really strong foundation in the food business that was the perfect segue into my professional career," he says.

Today, Jason is carrying on another family tradition – he represents the fourth generation of his family to work for Chelten House Products, Inc., the business established by his great-grandfather. First formed to import and sell specialty foods, Chelten House eventually evolved into a manufacturing company with a focus on organic, natural and premium food products in the pasta sauce, salad dressing and condiments sector. "When my father, Steve Dabrow, took over, he made the decision to go into organic products," says Jason. "That was in the late 1980s, so he was well ahead of his time."

Jason began contributing to the family business while attending the College of Agricultural Sciences. Starting from the ground up, he dedicated his summers to learning each company product line, working in the plant's processing kitchens, then gradually taking on more responsibilities. After earning his degree in 2008, he applied his academic background and experience to the position of Operations Manager, coordinating business functions like processing, warehousing and quality management. In 2012, when Chelten House expanded its operations, Jason took on the role of Director of Plant Operations at its new production location in Las Vegas.

Even at a distance, Jason maintained a connection with Penn State, staying in touch with some of his professors and a close-knit group of friends he made in the Agribusiness Management major.

"The relationships were a big part of my college experience," he says. "Penn State is a large school, but the agricultural major made it feel much more manageable. The smaller classes led to strong relationships with professors and great friendships. They're relationships that continue today."

At the end of 2014, Jason returned to the East Coast, taking up residence in center-city Philadelphia, a short commute from Chelten House's Bridgeport, New Jersey corporate headquarters. Today, in his role as the company's Chief Operating Officer, Jason oversees all the manufacturing and support functions for the Jersey and Vegas plants, including supply chain management, quality assurance, engineering and information technology.

Whether working near or far from campus, Jason says supporting the college and its agribusiness program has remained a priority. "I enjoy the opportunity to give back to the major. I had such an amazing college experience. I love the major and I love Penn State, so I try to help out whenever I can."

Jason hopes that students will continue to benefit from the rich educational environment he found in the college and feels there are excellent career opportunities for future graduates with interests in agribusiness and food production.

"I think the food business is a great industry and one that I would highly recommend to students who are still trying to decide on a career. First of all, it is very stable. But what is more appealing is the activity around the recent shift in consumer preferences. Things such as a focus on organics and clean eating, the "foodie" movement and e-commerce. It is a very exciting time for someone to come into the market."