Thomas Tongue, Jr. '84

Starting as a lab technician and working his way up, Thomas M. Tongue, Jr. ’84 is now the Director of Product Development for Innovative Food Processors (IFP) INC., with 27 years of fluid-bed encapsulation and agglomeration technology experience.

What is fluid-bed encapsulation and agglomeration technology, you ask? Well, in his position, Tom oversees all aspects of product development from concept to production. Located in Faribault, Minnesota, Innovative Food Processors has provided powder agglomeration – or, the sticking of particles to one another or to solid surfaces - and food ingredient microencapsulation services – or, the protection, stabilization, and slow release of food ingredients - to take their client’s products to new levels for over 30 years. Tom has been with the company for over 14 years, holding several different professional roles during that time.

Tom recently visited campus to speak with students in the science department and share his story.

“It was great to interact with the students and science staff,” says Tom. “We were able to talk about my past and their future at Lewis. We had some awesome conversation and it was great to see how much fun they were having.”

Tom’s previous work history at IFP, INC. and other places such as Quality Control Tech, Unilever, and Wrigley has transformed him into a powerful leader in this industry. Tom has written five patents, published several articles in trade journals, and spoken at a number of technical conferences. He also wrote a chapter entitled Old World Pizza Crust with New World Ingredients in “The Kitchen as Laboratory.”

Fascinated by science, Tom originally wanted to attend the United States Coast Guard Academy to become a marine biologist. After taking classes at Joliet Junior College for a while, he eventually enrolled at Lewis where his mother, Dorothy Tongue ’81, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Tom graduated from Lewis with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology including a minor in Chemistry.

“It was unbelievable to come back to campus and see how much the science department has grown since I attended,” Tom adds.

Tom recalls his organic chemistry course taught by Dr. Philip Hogan, former Director of the Chemistry Program, as a very pivotal moment in his college education.

“I struggled a lot in this course, but in hindsight, it made me realize that Lewis was the perfect place for me,” Tom says. “The professors at Lewis really want their students to succeed. The small class size and experienced professors contributed to my overall success. I was able to learn a lot and ask for extra assistance in order to really grow my skills and knowledge.”

Tom has been married to his wife, Connie, for 26 years. They have two children and recently became grandparents to a beautiful baby boy. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, archery, and bowling.

“I am able to be good at what I do, because I love what I do,” says Tom. “My experiences at Lewis plus a lot of determination have allowed me to achieve my dreams.”


March 2017

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