The women being honored for the 2019 Top Women in Store Brands epitomize what every company in America wants in an A-list employee, no matter the gender. They are diligent, industrious, committed and conscientious, among other superlatives that could be used to describe them.
Each year, Store Brands and Women Impacting Store Brand Excellence (WISE), a professional development organization, solicit nominations from the private brand industry to identify and honor a select few of these women through the Top Women in Store Brands program, which was created to provide well-deserved recognition for female professionals who have achieved exceptional success and bring a passion for store brands to their day-to-day activities.
For the next several days in Store Brands Today, we will continue to profile the winners of this year’s Top Women in Store Brands. Today, we profile Lisa Schechterman of Great Lakes Cheese, winner of the Functional Expertise: Marketing and Merchandising Award.
IN NOMINATING LISA SCHECHTERMAN for this award, given to a woman who has made a significant professional contribution to her company and/or the store brands industry through her accomplishments in marketing and merchandising, Great Lakes Cheese Co.’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing El Khattary said,” You haven’t met fearless until you’ve met Lisa Schechterman.”
Schechterman, the Hiram, Ohio-based company’s director of marketing, welcomed Khattary’s observation.
“When it comes to operating without fear, my belief is that we are all committed to the same end goal and that is delivering quality products to our retail partners,” Schechterman says. “So fear can’t hold me back if I want to serve them in the best fashion that I can.”
Schechterman joined Great Lakes Cheese, which offers a variety of cheese products for private label, in 2012 as the product marketing manager. Khattary says Schechterman eagerly took on more responsibilities as the business grew and was promoted to director of marketing.
“Lisa has done a tremendous job identifying opportunities in the marketplace and ways to ensure we stand out from the competition,” Khattary says.
Schechterman says her title is about more than just marketing.
“My day to day is really in the world of product development and product management,” she adds. “I’m charged with bringing new products to the private label space to meet the demand of innovation.”
Schechterman admits to having a “disruptive” personality. She’s not afraid to rock the boat a bit to get others thinking, including her nine team members.
“I have no problem asking the hard questions,” she says. “But I try to do it in a fun way, so it’s not off-putting to others. I’m extremely inquisitive.”
Her approach has helped Great Lakes Cheese identify new opportunities in the marketplace so the company can differentiate itself from its competition, Khattary says.
In the past year, with the opening of Great Lakes Cheese’s specialty plant in Wausau, Wis., Schechterman launched a full snacking portfolio that includes products for private label made with non-cheese ingredients, a new endeavor for the company.
“That’s a big strategic play for us, considering we’ve been a cheese company for 60 years,” she says.
Schechterman has also been instrumental in the commercialization of new and unique packaging formats such as stand-up pouch shreds, pre-sliced snack packaging and a premium shingle slice package new to the U.S. dairy industry, Khattary notes.
“Anytime you can solve a customer’s problem with innovation, it’s an easy win,” Schechterman says.
The bottom line is Great Lakes Cheese being an ambassador for retailers in helping them understand their opportunities in store brands, Schechterman adds.
“Private label has really changed over the last five years,” she says. “It was [growing] when I got here [in 2012], but we have retail customers with goals to achieve 75% penetration in the natural cheese category, which is huge.”
Schechterman’s personality is a perfect match for an industry that is embracing innovation.
“It has been super exciting,” she says.
Editor’s note: To select the Top Women in Store Brands honorees, a committee consisting of representatives from both Store Brands and WISE reviews nominations submitted by representatives within the store brand industry. The committee carefully evaluates the nominations, assessing each nominee’s accomplishments.
The award winners will be recognized during WISE’s annual meeting and luncheon on Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, Ill. The event coincides with the opening day of the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s Private Label Trade Show. For more information about the meeting, click here.