Forum For Knowledge

Stagnito Communications’ annual Top Gun event explores profitable business strategies defined by industry leaders.
Effective leaders create opportunities, seize initiatives and provide inspiration to fuel aspirations of excellence within their companies.
This theme defined this year’s Stagnito Top Gun Food & Beverage Forum held at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix in October. Speakers represented a variety of food segments and supply channels including Rudy Beltran, director, Budweiser Select, Anheuser-Busch Inc.; Tracy S. Brala, senior brand manager, Campbell’s Soup at Hand, Campbell Soup Company; Weizhi Chen, vice president of research and development, Barilla America Inc.; Mark Jansen, vice president of product strategy, Schwan’s Consumer Brands; Eric Le Blanc, director of marketing, Tyson Foods Deli Division; Paula Marshall-Chapman, chief executive officer, The Bama Companies Inc.; Eugenio Mendez, global group brand manager, The Coco-Cola Company; Joan Schneider, president, Schneider Associates; Paul Reiner, president, Unistraw; Steve Michaelson, president, FreshDirect; Marc Schulman, president, The Eli’s Cheesecake Company; Dean Spangler, chairman, president and chief executive officer; Spangler Candy Company; Kevin Srigley, senior vice president, market district, Giant Eagle Inc.; and Tom Vierhile, director, Productscan Online, Datamonitor.
The event also included a banquet and the presentations of the SCI Companies of the Year Awards.
Speaking about profiting from consumers’ demands for convenience, Le Blanc, advises food marketers to consider what drives the consumer convenience trend, determine how various segments define “convenience,” and then discover strategies to gain profits from resolving “these need states.” Tyson sought help from noted futurist, Faith Popcorn to project where the American consumer would be in the year 2015, he reported.
Marshall-Chapman told the group her international business platform follows the management wisdom of W. Edwards Deming, noted expert on strategic manufacturing systems. Bama in 2001 began following Six Sigma, a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects. “We selected and trained eight black belts, representing all functions of the organization,” Marshall-Chapman said, adding that in 2003 three more employees earned black belts and six earned green belts. Bama’s management philosophy subscribes to seven habits of high effective people, Marshall-Chapman said. The foundation of this approach involves using a principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems; improving the levels of interpersonal relationships; and improving communication to improve quality.
Joan Schneider, president, Schneider Associates, offered these 10 proven strategies for a successful new product launch: treat the launch as a separate phase; have a plan, don’t set it in stone; expect delays and anticipate leaks; spend money on products and concepts that are new; assemble an integrated expert launch team; don’t put the CEO in charge; recognize that bigger budgets fuel success and consumer-focused spending pays off; and don’t overlook PR. N