Q. How has your career evolved over the years?
A. As a high school student in need of money in the summer of 1988, I started at Roche Bros. as a part-time deli/prep foods clerk. After a few years, we opened a new store, and I had the opportunity to go full-time. Knowing the prospective longevity of the food business, I started to rise through the ranks of the deli department as an assistant deli manager followed by deli manager in 1995. I became excited for the future and my career path. After 17 years, I was promoted to deli/seafood merchandiser in 2012. I became the deli/seafood buyer in 2017 and assumed my current position of director of deli, seafood, bakery and specialty cheese in 2018.
Q. What positions have you held in industry associations?
A. I am member of the IDDBA’s management forum, a member of the Massachusetts Cheese Guild and Massachusetts’ Food Association’s category focus sub-committee.
Q. What is your leadership philosophy?
A. I am always fair and consistent in the principles that guide my decision making. While there may be those who disagree with my decisions, consistency with those decisions brings respect. I am a big proponent of developing my team to their fullest and prepare them for their career development. I will always lead from the front and give my team the credit when everything is going great and will always bear the weight of criticism when it’s not so great. I believe coaching people and letting them be creative and make decisions on their own is invaluable to the team as a whole while giving others confidence in their own abilities.
Q. What is the best advice you ever received and why?
A. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take on new tasks and responsibilities that you may think are beyond your scope. Always do more than what’s expected and always help when you see a person or department in need.
Q. How do you balance your work and personal life?
A. I balance my work and personal life by setting time aside every night and weekend for family, friends, exercise ,etc. It is important to decompress, put away your cell phone and spend that time with those most important to you.
Q: What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last
A. The biggest surging trend this past year was the continued emergence with the plant-based food category. Leading that trend was the Beyond Meat Co., along with plant-based dairy, beverages, spreads, dips and sauces. We have seen double digit growth year over year in this category. Is it a fad? Still unknown, but retailers are dedicating a lot of frozen and fresh square footage to this category.
Q: What technology or technical tools are indispensable to you in the workplace and why?
A. IRI/Nielsen data has been an excellent tool, providing drilled down market data information. From pricing, market share and competitive sales volumes, it is a good tool to aid in decision making.
Q: What have been the biggest changes in the deli industry over the course of your career?
A. I have seen many changes over the course of my career but what stands out is the consumer demand for grab-and-go items, healthier nitrate/nitrite free and non GMO items and how private label has evolved into a high-quality, trusted product on par with any national brand in most retail locations.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome on the job?
A. The biggest challenge I had to overcome was when I was promoted to director of deli, seafood, bakery and specialty cheese. I had all the experience and confidence in deli, seafood and specialty cheese but never worked a day in the bakery department. I thought flour was flour! Not being a baker had its own set of challenges, but I had the best support staff and best bakers in the industry to help guide me along. At the end of the day, the business model was the same, be it a cupcake or honey ham. I needed to do the same thing with both—offer the highest quality product and sell it!
Q: What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
A. Outside of work, I love to spend time with my family and German Shepherds. I spend a lot of time fishing, eating at great restaurants, working in the yard and traveling.
Q: Are you married? If so, how long? How many children?
A. I’ve been married to my wife Karen since 1996, and we have two kids—Keely, 17 and Kenny, 13.