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From InTouch Magazine Spring 2018 Issue

JOE SIMONOVICH

Chief Growth Officer, Corporate Essentials

BA of Journalism, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP)
ELN Member, 2016 EDP Graduate, 2017 NAMA Executive Forum Attendee


How did you begin your career?
After graduating college, I took a position in the customer service department of a small office products company called Accurate Office. I moved into the marketing department in just a few weeks, and through a series of acquisitions, I spent time in the marketing department of Allied Office Products and for a short time Office Depot. All the while, I had a small internet marketing business called Creative Concepts E-Marketing. I did some email marketing work for Judson Kleinman and Corporate Essentials; and that’s how I was introduced to the Office Coffee Service industry.

What are the skills you use most in your career?
Creative problem solving- hands down the skill I use the most every day. At some point you learn that problems don’t go away as you advance within a company, you just work your way to becoming the person who owns the final decision on more major issues. I absolutely love being working something through from concept to resolution - especially when the pressure is on.

How did you get into the convenience services industry?
When I started my career with the aforementioned office supply company, Corporate Essentials actually sublet space in our office. I got to know Judson, Tim and Ivan (the founders of Corporate Essentials) while I was there. As single cup coffee became more of a staple in the office products world, I started to love the coffee side of the business. By chance, I bumped into Judson in line at Magnolia Bakery in New York City, we struck up a conversation (after not speaking for a few years) and the rest is history - I’ve been a part of the Corporate Essentials Family ever since.

Give us an overview of your role and key responsibilities.
I am responsible for driving top-line revenue growth. This role is really the culmination of what I have worked on over the past 11 years at Corporate Essentials. I spent the majority of my early years running the marketing department, and then transitioned to SVP of Operations, a role in which I spent nearly four years. By getting an overall understanding of all aspects of the business, I now have the ability to approach my role as Chief Growth Officer with a better understanding of each department’s piece of the puzzle.

What does an average day for you involve?
Everyday is just a little bit different - that’s what makes it great. What I would consider to be a perfect day is when I get to spend the majority of my time playing offense; working with teams on the creation and implementation of new ideas and strategies is always something that makes each of those “perfect days” go by way too fast.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges you face in your business?
The number-one challenge we face as a company is creating and maintaining processes needed in a larger business, while still being a nimble company able to pivot, adapt and refocus to meet any challenge.

What are the greatest opportunities?
Understanding workplace snacking. Over the next few years workplace snacks will be more important than workplace coffee. Those operators who embrace and understand a culture that has snacking as a major focus will be the ones who are able to continue to win. The first obstacle is not looking at snacking as a fad or a trend, but as a way of life for millennials and those who are part of Gen Z. Understanding why snacking is more than Oreos and Flaming Cheetos is why some operators will thrive in the coming years.

What are you looking forward to at The NAMA Show?
I am looking forward to the new Convenience Central format that NAMA is implementing this year. I am a total geek when it comes to new and emerging products in the marketplace. For so many years, people in our industry have ignored opportunities created by events like the Natural Products Expos and Fancy Foods Shows. By making these part of The NAMA Show, it gives operators an opportunity to grow their business in ways they may not have previously thought.

Moving forward, what are your personal/professional goals?
My major goal for 2018 is the same both personally and professionally, to be more present. I have an awful habit of being “too busy” to focus on what’s right in front of me at any given time. Whether it’s my wife, my daughter or a member of my team, I know I am much too distracted by technology. I am really making an effort to be more in the moment, and I have already noticed that when I am more conscious about doing it, it is a positive thing.

Tell us about the most memorable work experience you’ve had.
It was a moment during the rebrand of Corporate Essentials when I realized exactly why the company existed at all - to make work better. Before that we always focused on our products keeping customers caffeinated and at their desks, but we should have really been focused on the opposite - bringing people together. Since that day, I have become a firm believer in the fact that everything we do is key to helping our clients build a positive company culture.

What advice would you offer young people starting their careers in this industry?
Don’t undervalue what this industry brings to our clients. Sometimes it can be looked at as being “old” or “not cool,” but with the change in perception I’ve seen over the past few years, the convenience services industries should really be viewed as an exciting space to be in.

As an ELN member, in your own words, what is the value of participating in the group?
The connections you make in ELN are connections with true thought leaders in the industry. For me personally (being on the high side of the ELN age range), it gives me an open forum to speak and interact with other members that fall into that millennial audience we’re all trying to reach. I truly value the connections I’ve made above all else.