Elisa Giusti -- Director of Marketing, Wholesome Harvest Baking

Tagged in Leadership Manufacturer Members

Share a story about your first job in foodservice.
Technically, my first job in foodservice was as a waitress my first year at university (something I think should be a rite of passage for every single person). My first shift on the floor was a Friday night. We were in full-on, waitlist mode, I had been "triple sat" and the family of six that had been waiting a whole 4 minutes and 24 seconds for their spinach and artichoke dip was getting a bit disgruntled with  me... I ran back into the kitchen, and not so kindly asked why my ticket wasn't up yet? What I got next was a grin, followed by a headshake.... 3 minutes and 15 seconds (aka 2 hrs front-of-house time) later, my plate got tossed up into the window, and I heard it loud and clear when I got back to my table. Two lessons still very applicable to my career today were realized: 1. You need to know how to manage people's expectations.
2. When you talk to a restaurant's "back of the house," know what you are talking about… because if  you don't, be prepared to be tuned right out.

What is your industry passion?
I thrive whenever I allow a goal to become my muse, allowing creativity to be the leading resource. I've learned that creativity can be the most useful of assets when one would least expect it to be. It brings to a situation, lenses that are rarely used. I have found this to be one the biggest factors of my success in creating meaningful and lasting relationships, not only with colleges but customers as well. Whether it is through the lanes of innovation or continuous self/organizational improvement, it has always allowed me to grow and continuously stay driven to do and be more.

What is your advice to a person new to the industry? 
Listen, A LOT. There is so much to learn, but at the same time, use that objective and outside viewpoint that you bring by being new. Keep it that way as long as you can, because the best changes are made from those who bring an idea to the table that is outside of "the way we have always done it."

How does being an IFMA member benefit you?
It has been a source of education as well as a forum to which I have been able to meet and make key relationships within our industry.

IFMA featured members are selected based on their accomplishments in the food industry. Recognized as leaders, they are the people moving the industry forward with big ideas and even bigger goals. Know someone who fits the bill? Tell us.

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Aug 07

Marketing & Sales Leaders Forum

The annual IFMA Marketing & Sales Leaders Forum focuses on marketing and sales collaboration, providing these professionals the means to apply actionable insights and best practices to work together to improve both strategic planning and go-to-market execution. 

The program serves to unravel the complexities of the foodservice landscape, delivering powerful insights into the consumer, operator and distributor communities, as well as communicating how to best utilize the available tools for improved collaboration and tactical go-to-market execution. 

Mike Villano, VP/GM Foodservice, Basic American Foods

Mike Villano is no stranger to hard work. After getting his start in foodservice managing seafood restaurants in Manhattan, he learned quickly what types of challenges operators face on a daily basis. This foundational knowledge and his "no shortcuts" approach helps him ensure Basic American Foods' customers thrive in the restaurant business. Get to know him.

Michael Cannon, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Surlean Foods

Managing the growth and development of the sales, marketing and R&D teams at Surlean Foods is quite the task, but somehow Michael finds time to help shape many of IFMA's programs. His motto, "Don't let 'perfect' get in the way of 'better'" helps him stay on task and continuously seek improvement. Get to know him.

Erin Buntin, Director, Foodservice Sales, Schreiber Foods

In Erin Buntin's current role at Schreiber Foods, she is charged with being "customer obsessed", which means she leads the company's field sales team to build strategies and business plans that focus on exceeding customers expectations and of course, selling more cases profitably. When her friends ask her what she does, she simply replies "I am changing the world one slice of cheese at a time." Get to know her.

Joe Bybel -- Senior VP, Marketing and R&D, Ventura Foods

Maintaining a strong work ethic and keeping an eye on the details are two key traits needed for success in foodservice, according to Joe Bybel of Ventura Foods. In addition, Joe believes providing simpler and more natural products will continue to be a top priority needed to meet complex consumer demands. Get to know him.

Richard Ferranti, Executive VP and COO, Rich Products

"Why not?" is a simple question that has opened up a world of opportunity for Richard Ferranti. From establishing businesses in emerging markets like China, Brazil and India to leading the North American business for Rich Products, he's a foodservice guru with all the right stuff. Get to know him.

Kent Walrack, President & Chief Operating Officer, Lyons Magnus

Kent has a keen understanding of teamwork and loyalty after spending nearly 30 years working his way up through Lyons Magnus. He takes great pride in being part of a dedicated core management team and cultivating talent throughout the organization. Get to know him.

Foodservice Spending Is Up but Visits Are Flat As Consumers Continue To Eat More Meals At Home

Foodservice spending, which was up 3 percent in the year ending April 2015, did not equate to foodservice visits, which were flat in the period, according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. The foodservice industry remains challenged to get people out of their homes to eat versus eating in home.  Four out of five meals are prepared and consumed at home and in home meals have been on the rise for several years, reports NPD’s ongoing food consumption market research.

John Koncki from CKE Restaurants Gets May's SMB Call Fired Up

Every month, IFMA's Small & Midsized Business (SMB) community hosts a discussion with industry experts, trading partners or operator customers. In May, John Koncki, Director of R&D at CKE Restaurants, joined the SMB community call, discussing how small and midsized businesses can work with the restaurant chain.

John Koncki from CKE Restaurants to Join May's SMB Call

Every month, IFMA's Small & Midsized Business (SMB) community hosts a discussion with industry experts, trading partners or operator customers. John Koncki, Director of R&D at CKE Restaurants, will be joining the SMB community call and discussing how small and midsized businesses can work with the restaurant chain.

Cleveland Research Identifies Movement in Grocery Foodservice Trend

Given the accelerated shift to perimeter departments within grocery and convenience stores, retailers are allocating more space and resources to grow profits from foodservice sales.  The opportunities for manufacturers to secure growth in this channel are prospering, hear more  from Jason Whitmer, President of Cleveland Research Company at Presidents Conference in November.