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 Hope Schoeffling from Camerican International, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
HOPE SCHOEFFLING HAS BEEN climbing the proverbial career ladder in the food importing business for nearly 40 years. Her first rung on the ladder was as an executive assistant for a food importing company in the late 1970s. Her current rung is as the vice president of retail sales for Camerican International, a Paramus, N.J.-based 103-year-old company that supplies frozen and canned fruit, vegetables, seafood, grains and specialty items to the food industry, including for private brands.
Schoeffling is responsible for developing private brand programs for a variety of imported products with U.S. retail and wholesale grocers. Her career climb has been impressive, which is why she is receiving this distinguished honor, awarded to a woman who has spent the majority of her career in store brands and has “made her mark” through professional achievements, as well as through personal contributions to her employer(s), colleagues, community and the industry.
“Hope is a woman of high character with a strong work ethic and a passion for what she does that inspires the trust and loyalty underpinning the long-term relationships she has developed,” commented Larry Abramson, CEO of Camerican International, who nominated Schoeffling for this award.
Schoeffling knew nothing about food importing when she began her career with a start-up company. Through various career promotions, she gained experience in customer service, sales, procurement and other aspects of the business.
“It was a lot of fun doing all the different jobs you had to do in a small company,” she says.
Schoeffling joined Camerican International about 15 years ago to help build retail sales. At the time, the company was strong in the foodservice space but not the retail sector. Schoeffling helped changed that. She and others have grown the company’s retail sales more than fourfold since she began.
One of Schoeffling’s accounts is Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets, a regional grocer well known for its private brands. Schoeffling is so respected by Wegmans that the retailer awarded her its Wegmans Superstar Pin in 2009, which is usually reserved for Wegmans employees.
“Wegmans felt that Hope’s commitment to the success of its private label business was so remarkable that she should be considered as part of the team and, as such, deserved this recognition,” Abramson says.
Schoeffling says the key to forming trusting business relationships with retailers like Wegmans is exceptional communication, including conveying information that is both positive and negative.
“If you’re constantly just giving people good news and you try to hide the bad news, they aren’t going to trust you,” Schoeffling stresses. “If you let them know the bad as soon as it happens, they will understand the situation better.”
Funny thing, Schoeffling says when she was younger she never thought she wanted to sell imported food when she grew up.
“I’m not a sales person by nature,” she adds. “I fell into this, but thank goodness it was there for me to fall into. Receiving this award is an extreme honor as I know there are so many others equally or more deserving.”
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.