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rik Waterkotte got into the deli meats business by accident.
An informal meeting while selling calculators and printers for
Hewlett Packard put him in contact with someone who needed a
director of marketing.
"After about six months of conversation, I began an eight-year stint
selling and marketing deli for the company," Waterkotte says. "Looking
back, it was such a great decision, and I couldn't be happier, as it's such
a happy business to be in."
Where Waterkotte is now - senior director of sales for Columbus Craft
Meats and chairman of IDDBA - is decidedly less of an accident. He
took the reins of the IDDBA chair in September and has helped plan
what is expected to be the organization's biggest show yet.
It's a show that Waterkotte says can help attendees combat one of the
biggest obstacles for the industry as a whole.
"In my opinion, the pace of change is accelerating," he says. "I believe
that, for many years, we in the perimeter have been pondering the
same question: 'How do I get more of the existing customers into my
departments? Everything I sell can be bought in another area of the
store, sometimes for less money.'"
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Instead, Waterkotte says, the retailers that are excelling today are
looking at how they get to the consumer. And that's usually by
creating a unique experience for them. "Regardless of how or what
that consumer buys, they see the need to buy from the deli or bakery
department, because of the experience those departments provide."
As Waterkotte was preparing for IDDBA 18, InStore was able to catch
up with him during a visit to a Lee's Summit, Missouri, Hy-Vee. He
shared his thoughts on IDDBA, the show, the industry as a whole,
InStore: As we head into IDDBA 18, the strength of perimeter
grocery and fresh foods is still growing. How has the climate of
the industry changed since last year's show?
Waterkotte: Our industry is continually evolving, and last year we
experienced both new entrants and expansion of trends that no doubt
will impact how we do business. At this point last year, Whole Foods
was a stand-alone company; now, store services like online shopping,
click-and-collect, and home delivery-which were only beginning to
catch on leading up to last year's show-are becoming an almost necessity for retail store operators to successfully compete. Omnichannel-a
topic addressed by a show speaker just two years ago-is long past the
adoption stage, and retailers that haven't incorporated the principles of
this model into their operations are now scrambling to remain relevant
among new grocery channels and services.
How is IDDBA 18 addressing this shifting landscape?
With challenges come opportunities, and the trade show floor will be
a source of inspiration and ideas for retailers looking to boost sales
and grow their customer base. Show attendees can expect a bevy
of unique manufacturers showcasing the latest in new products and
services; in turn, these exhibitors will experience the industry's best
venue for getting their products in front of retailers and, ultimately,
consumers. And this is the ultimate goal for these businesses, as a
company can influence consumer behavior if its product can be
viewed and purchased in-store. But due to geographical and budgetary
barriers, accomplishing this can prove difficult, especially as the local
and sustainable movement continues to grow and evolve. Our show
provides the perfect opportunity for companies to make this happen.
How has IDDBA helped you in your career?
This is probably my favorite question. As noted early in the interview, I
came to the deli business later in my career. The IDDBA and specifically
past president Carol Christison took a chance on me by offering a position on the Board of Directors. Since then, the IDDBA has provided me
with a global perspective of the businesses we serve. For many of us,
we work in the deli, the bakery, or dairy. Beyond that, you may only see
non-service aspects of all of these categories. The IDDBA has educated
me on every aspect of the deli, dairy, bakery, cheese, and prepared
food business. It has allowed me to develop an intelligence about how
all of these areas truly are intertwined and interdependent. From a
selfish perspective, this has allowed me a greater working knowledge
of my customers' business, and hopefully it has helped me be a better
resource for my retailers. From a more general perspective, it has
helped me build friendships and relationships that extend well outside
my work day, and I hope these extend long after my working days.
What goals do you have as a board chairman for IDDBA?
Survival? I'm joking. The office of IDDBA Chairman comes with a lot
of responsibility, and I first have to thank Hormel and Columbus for
allowing me to serve this organization. Without their great support, I
would not have the chance to achieve any of the goals we are working
toward this year. Beyond that, my main goal is leaving this organization positioned for the future. There are a number of training and
educational programs currently under development, and I see this
area as one that IDDBA can own and really propel to new heights. Our
goal as an association is to retain and attract talented professionals on
the category side of our businesses. From deli training certification that
keeps talented people at the store level, to our fresh careers programs
aimed at keeping talented culinary people in the business, we're busy
developing a curriculum that will help our members recruit and keep
adept associates in our deli, bakery, dairy, cheese, and prepared food
departments and the manufacturers that provide the products sold
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