Q. How has your career evolved over the years?
A. I started working at a grocery store when I turned 16. I was hired to clean the meat department, but they realized I was too young to tear down saws, so they then moved me to the bakery department. I worked for that owner for the next 18 years through several different remodels and positions. When I left ,we had put in a restaurant, deli and bakery, and I loved being part of the change from just a bakery to a full-service deli/bakery in the 18 years I worked for them. In 2000, I went to work for Supervalu as a deli/bakery specialist in Spokane, WA. I called on independent customers in Washington, Idaho and Montana. I did that until 2006, when I got hired on at Supervalu’s corporate office in Minneapolis as a department merchandising manager for the corporate stores we owned at the time. The main focus on the job was to be a liaison to help execute and roll out programs to the 800 bakeries we owned across the company. I did that for just over two years, until the job was eliminated. I then moved to Boise and ran Albertsons deli department for about a year when I was then transferred back to Supervalu’s corporate office as bakery director for the corporate stores. Then we were sold back to Albertsons. I went to work for a bakery vendor for eight fun filled months to learn the other side of the business when Supervalu had an opening for a deli/bakery director for the central region. I came back and ran our Central Division. In June of 2017, I was promoted to vice president of bakery/deli and prepared foods for Supervalu, now UNFI.
Q. What positions have you held in industry associations?
A. I’ve been involved with the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association since 2001. I was on the Show and Sell team for 10 years, and now I serve on their board.
Q. What is the best advice you ever received and why?
A. The best advice I received was coming out of retail. I worked for a boss in Spokane, and he told me in this industry nothing is ever black and white. I try to remember that every day. When someone comes to me with an issue or solution, how you handle a situation today can be totally different than how you handle it a week later. Also, always take the time to listen, even when you’re busy.
Q: What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last year?
A. Prepared foods is still huge, with now a focus on healthy along with all the international flavors. That is why we launched a program two years ago and are continuing to develop and modify our Quick & Easy branded program, which crosses all of fresh departments. It allows our customers to focus on the flavor profiles that fit their demographic area and still have a quick healthy meal solution for their customers. It gives customers the choice to prepare at home with a meal kit or items from the meat department that are prepped and ready to cook; Ready to Enjoy—anything from rotisserie, fried chicken, hot entrées, grab-and-go salads, sandwiches or fresh fruit and veggies. The last one is Heat and Eat, and this is tied mainly around deli prepared foods and produce. An example would be a lasagna entrée to heat at home and paired with a green salad and garlic bread. Consumers can mix and match a rotisserie with some fresh steamable veggies from the produce department. This trend is only going to continue to increase opportunities for the deli department.
Q: What have been the biggest changes in the deli industry over the course of your career?
A. There’s been a lot of changes, but the variety and quality of prepared foods have been the largest change, especially with the focus on healthier choices. The one steady thing that has been there since day one is chicken and with the addition of more baked, rotisserie and organic chickens, we now have healthier options for our customers in that category.
Q. Are you married? If so, how long? How many children?
A. I am single and I have four children and five grandchildren that I love spending time with every opportunity I get.