A Q&A with Greg Pohlmann, author of 'Thinking Store Brands First' and a veteran of the private brand industry
How did you come into the world of private brands?
The first store brand program I worked on was the Staff brand, which our Giant Food Stores sold in the late 1960s. I was in college then but later joined the Benner Tea Co. in 1975 (parent of Giant Food Stores) as director of advertising and marketing. Hence, I worked with the Staff store brand items in all our advertising and marketing efforts as both a retailer and wholesaler.
Describe the private brands industry in one word.
What do you like most about the industry?
The win-win-win scenario store brands create for retailers, suppliers and customers. Everyone wins with sales, profits and savings.
What do you dislike most about the industry?
That many consumers still believe purchasing store brands means they are trading down in product quality when compared to the national or regional brands. This is very far from the truth.
What one great thing does the industry have going for it?
Customers, when purchasing store brands, don’t have to pay the higher prices for national and regional brands and can use those savings for other parts of their household budgets.
What is the industry’s biggest challenge?
Convincing retailers and wholesalers to not let branded trade dollars drive their business. Rather, they need to allow their EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) operating profits to determine how their stores and marketing plans are executed.
If you could create one private brand product, what would it be?
Meal kits for home delivery.
Who is your hero and why?
Jesus Christ, who gave me my parents who then gave me life — the most special gift of all.
What trait in yourself do you attribute most to your success?
Driven to striving for perfection in every endeavor I encounter.
What is the biggest obstacle you have ever overcome?
Being an only child, having to suffer the loss of my parents when they passed away.
What’s the best advice someone ever gave you?
Listen much more and talk much less.
What do you do for fun?
While work was always fun, when not working I enjoy playing golf, jogging, playing the piano, serving in my church as elder, and spending quality time with my wife, two sons, two daughters-in-law and our five grandchildren.
You have a week off. Where do you go and why?
I love both Colorado and Arizona to enjoy mountain and/or desert golf and trout fishing.
If you were born 100 years ago, what would you do for a living?
The same thing I did for 40 years before my retirement — be the absolute best store brand executive sales manager I could possibly be.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
“Self-Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out,” by Dr. Phil.