Q. How has your career evolved over the years?
A. I started in the retail grocery industry as a bagger when I was 16 years old. Being with Schnucks for over 20 years, I have spent time in marketing, merchandising, finance, procurement and now category management. Being a part of so many different departments has really helped understand the entire scope of our business and how one small change can have an impact on multiple areas of the business.
Q. What is your leadership philosophy?
A. Heavily relying on our team is one of the biggest things that leads to our overall success. I always work on empowering my team to make the right decisions without micromanaging their day-to-day duties. We are always generating open conversations about how we can collectively serve our customers and teammates better.
Q. What is the best advice you ever received and why?
A. Take risks and fail fast. Over the past few years, we have taken a few leaps of faith and had a lot of success with new product launches and identifying new signature items. On the flipside, we have tried other new products that did not resonate with our customers. Having a strategic plan for both scenarios is essential. In many instances, there are more learnings from the unsuccessful product launches that help drive future decisions for our department.
Q. How do you balance your work and personal life?
A. My wife and I both say we work hard but play harder. While at work, I try to be as efficient as possible so I can get home and spend time with my family. Trying to simplify the day-to-day processes and challenges has been key in helping this balance. I am always seeking new ways of working more efficiently in order to streamline our business. Identifying and prioritizing blue chips helps relieve some of the pressure of not getting to lower priority projects.
Q: What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last year?
A. Grab-and-go has been a major focus for our deli over the past year. Working through labor shortages is requiring us to go to market differently than ever before. Time is one thing that a lot of people don’t have enough of. We are constantly evaluating more pre-packaged items to eliminate wait times in our full-service areas of the business. We need to find offerings that help expedite the shopping experience for those who don’t have an abundance of extra time.
Q: What technology or technical tools are indispensable to you in the workplace and why?
A. We currently have a variety of data and analytic tools to provide us with insights to make category decisions. I was a data analyst for two years in our finance department and still use these tools daily in order to make key decisions that will help drive sales and reduce shrink. As time goes on, I see this becoming even more critical to our business. With our Schnucks Rewards program, we will be able to evaluate shopping patterns and get a better understanding of loyalty to specific items, brands and categories.
Q: What have been the biggest changes in the deli industry over the course of your career?
A. Our customers and the product they want is evolving quicker than ever before. Customers are wanting quick and easy meal solutions that taste great and don’t break the bank. We need to maintain our focus on our core products while continuing to evolve and offer new on trend products, such as ethnic and vegan foods. My philosophy has always been that I want to sell great tasting food at a good price. Our culinary team is constantly creating new products and finding new suppliers to ensure we are offering the best food possible.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome on the job?
A. The unknown is always the thing that challenges me the most in any new job I have started. The uncertainty of if I will be able to adapt and succeed fast is always in the back of my mind.
Q: What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
A. I am a huge foodie and love travelling. Anytime I go out of town, I am looking to where I can have a great meal and cocktail. Luckily, St. Louis has an amazing food and beer scene that we take advantage of all the time.
Q: Are you married? If so, how long? How many children?
A. Yes, my amazing wife Lacee and I have been married for 13 years, and have a four-year-old, Lincoln, and a one-year-old, Eloise.