Describe your journey that brought you to your current position.
My journey in the Industry and my current position has been a long one. I started working in the first Kroger Deli in Grand Rapids, MI. I then got the position of Deli Manger at the same store. When Kroger left the Grand Rapids area I had an offer to work for a food broker. I started merchandising and selling to the retailers in western Michigan. I worked my way to Sales Manager for the Deli Bakery Division. I worked closely with retailers and had a very strong team that worked with me to grow the deli and bakery products. We trained retailer’s deli and bakery employees. We worked with them daily on proper ways to merchandise. We trained on proper rotation of products – we helped them with day to day procedures in the fresh departments. After working with all of the retailers, I was lucky enough to get the position of Director of Midwest. I now am putting together a team for all 8 AWG DC’s to work daily with DC’s and retailers.
How long have you been in your current role and describe how your work contribute to your company and impact the industry?
I have been in this position for 5 years. My position impacts this industry with my knowledge and love of the fresh departments. Everyday, in this industry there are changes and challenges and I try to help with what I have learned and how to change with the new challenges everyday.
What has surprised you most when you started in the field?
The people, they all have such a passion and knowledge of the Deli and Bakery. I also love all the innovative foods that have changed so much over the years.
How has your career and/or personal journey shaped you as a current industry professional?
Learning all the different areas in the industry. The starting as a cashier, to stocking shelves, to then working in the deli and the bakery departments. Then I moved to management and to sales. Every step has shaped me to an industry professional and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it all over again. Nothing better than the people, the food, and the knowledge from it all.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When you make a sale do some great merchandising in a store. The people always the best part, everyone has different ideas and there's nothing better than hearing them all.
What advice would you give someone who is considering a career in the food industry?
You are never to young or to old to get in this industry. You will enjoy every step of the way. You learn something new every day so you never get bored. No matter if you are at store level, sales level or management you will find it gets in your blood and you end up with nothing but passion for the industry.
How has IDDBA impacted you professionally?
I have met and learned a lot from all the great professionals in this Industry. The information that the IDDBA has to help us all grow in this Industry is amazing. IDDBA's published trends book, What’s In Store, is one thing that no one should do without. I go back to What's in Store many times and look up information that helps me with my sales presentations.
Lastly, what’s your guilty food pleasure?
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.