Q. How has your career evolved over the years?
A. I started out in the restaurant/catering business and had an opportunity to work on the wholesale side of the business as a deli/bakery retail counselor. My main responsibilities were developing in-store prepared food and bakery programs for independent retailers. I then became the deli/bakery merchandising manager, writing retail ad plans and developing new programs for wholesale distribution. I am currently the director of deli/bakery.
Q. What is your leadership philosophy?
A. My business leadership philosophy is to create and maintain a team of dedicated people that are committed to outstanding customer service. The goal of our team is to build strong customer confidence and vendor relations. The combination of this philosophy will provide mutual success and profitability in both the retail and wholesale channels of our business.
Q. What is the best advice you ever received and why?
A.“Try to be something to everybody and you will end up being nothing to nobody.” Within our industry, failure occurs when you don’t have focus. What is the message you want to offer the consumer? Are you premium, middle of the road or discount? Any way you perceive the business model, it has to have consistency in order to draw success based on that message.
Q. How do you balance your work and personal life?
A. In both work and personally, it’s about relationships. My wife Mary is extremely supportive of our family and my work ethic. You’ve heard others say it’s important to have a strong foundation, and it’s true!
DB: What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last year?
A. I think the biggest change has been the increased demand for pre-sliced cold cuts and grab-and-go items. Customers are looking for the convenience without sacrificing quality. I believe the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic will change the way we merchandise the deli department.
DB: What technology or technical tools are indispensable to you in the workplace and why?
A. Our company’s business information technologies “Merlin” is our most useful tool. It’s an internet-based system that gives us real time information about our business. It is a business tool supporting sales, operations and business managers.
DB: What have been the biggest changes in the deli industry over the course of your career?
A. Case continuity. Early in my career, there were many brands of products in the service deli. Today, most accounts carry a premium, private label and a few regional brands. The quality of products has improved, and customers are more ingredient-conscious. Grab-and-go is a growing category and will now have more forefront in the deli as we look at consumer health and safety in packages versus the service deli.
DB: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome on the job?
A. Probably the biggest challenge I had to overcome was dealing with associates who were reluctant to change. It came at a time when the company was experiencing rapid growth. We needed to look for ways to use new technologies in order to become more efficient. Eventually, the people who were adaptable made the changes and were much more proficient at what they did.
DB: What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
A. I enjoy skiing, sporting clays, hunting and fishing.
DB: Are you married? If so, how long? How many children?
A. I am married with three children—a son and two daughters.