Feb 252020

For your awareness, RDD is entering our 3rd year of fielding our perishables-focused sales agency services in the Southeast region.  I’m pleased to share that our client brand portfolio and overall sales results continue to accelerate as our reputation for providing clients with hands-on stewardship, experienced counsel and solid customer penetration continues to grow.  RDD Southeast is solidly positioned for significant expansion in 2020, and we remain one of the few perishables-exclusive sales agencies in the region.

It’s with great personal pleasure, and a modest dose of regret, that I announce the upcoming retirement of Joe Cervantes, who has served as General Manager of RDD Southeast since our founding in December, 2017.  Joe has been a highly visible and widely recognized thought leader in the dairy industry, a highly valued RDD advocate, a trusted advisor and great friend to me for several decades.  Since relocating to the Charlotte area to lead our expansion into the Southeast, Joe has worked tirelessly to build retailer support for our clients’ initiatives and RDD’s foundational service platform.  We are grateful that he will remain on staff in an advisory role into his retirement.

It’s my pleasure to announce that Jay Henderson will be joining RDD Southeast in a managerial capacity, effective February 4th.  Jay is an accomplished, seasoned and admired sales leader, with over 35 years experience in the retail food sales industry.  He brings to the RDD Southeast organization extensive CPG product knowledge, perishables expertise and brand management experience.  Jay’s list of grocery retailer experience includes Harris Teeter, Publix, Food Lion, Ingles, MDI, Lowes, The Fresh Market, Food City and SEG.  Jay began his career in the food industry with Kraft USA, before redirecting towards the brokerage industry.  Over his brokerage career, Jay has served in front-line managerial roles with sales agencies, including Advantage, Alliance and CROSSMARK.  Jay is a graduate of University of North Carolina – Charlotte, and resides in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Beth.

Jay will be based at the RDD Southeast office in Charlotte, NC, and will report to Dan Cignarella, RDD Senior Vice President.  Jay’s email address will be [email protected]

Please join me in congratulating Joe for his extraordinary career of service, and welcome Jay to the RDD family!

Best regards,


Jul 122019

It is my pleasure to announce that Chris Vuono will be joining RDD Associates as Director of Business Development — Fresh Foods & Produce. This senior leadership position is responsible for managing several significant RDD client businesses, and closely collaborating with the RDD Fresh Foods and Produce Directors, Mike Huberfeld and Jim Regan, and Bob Weinmann, on new client engagements.

Chris is an accomplished CPG sales, marketing and procurement professional. Throughout his accomplished career, Chris has directed his energies and innovative thinking to identify business development and merchandising opportunities and mobilize collaboration among client/manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to deliver superior sales results. Chris spent 18 years at Wakefern Food Corp. progressing through a variety of procurement departments and category management roles, to include perishables assignments in Dairy/Deli, Produce and Meat. Most recently, Chris has served as Senior Director of Sales & Customer Development at Crossmark, responsible for directing client brand sales to supermarket customers across the Metro New York, Mid-Atlantic and New England markets.

Chris is a graduate of Adelphi University, and resides in Red Bank, NJ with his wife Mary Ellen, and his two children, Annmarie and Matthew.

Chris will join the organization on June 17th as a member of the senior leadership staff. He will be reporting to Bob Weinmann.

Please join us to welcome Chris into the RDD family!

Bob Cignarella

Chris Vuono, Director of Business Development – Fresh Foods & Produce

May 062019
It is our pleasure to announce that John Hamm will be joining the RDD/Pro-Star sales agency as Team Leader – Ahold USA. This senior leadership position is responsible for providing effective stewardship and accountability for our agency’s broad portfolio of business under management at Ahold USA. Throughout his accomplished career in the retail food and CPG industries, John has been directed his energies and passion to identify business development and merchandising opportunities at Ahold brands, and mobilize genuine collaboration among client/manufacturers, Ahold merchandising management and agency resources, to deliver superior sales results. Most recently, John has served as Vice President of Sales for Acosta Sales and Marketing, responsible for managing their central Pennsylvania sales office and their client business activation across Ahold Delhaize brands and other Mid-Atlantic customers, including Weis, Acme, Safeway, and C&S.

John will join the organization on May 6th and will be based at the Pro-Star headquarters in New Freedom, PA. John will report to Randy Holland, President of the Star Group and General Manager of Pro-Star and with a dotted line reporting relationship to Dan Cignarella, SVP Business Development of RDD Associates. Effective May 6th John’s email address will be [email protected] If you have any questions, please reach out to your RDD Business Manager or to Dan at [email protected]

Please join us to welcome John into the RDD/Pro-Star family!
Nov 162018

Dear Client Partner,

It’s been brought to our attention that new policies & procedures for cost changes are being implemented across all Ahold brands that you should be aware of. The official Vendor Communication documents are attached, but we feel it’s important to over-communicate during this transition so that all parties’ expectations are aligned as we plan and prepare for cost changes in the next calendar year.

As detailed in the attached documents, your Category Manager, Category Analyst and Price & Promotional Analyst must be given 90-day notice prior to any cost changes. This 90-day period only begins once all of the following have been completed & correctly submitted:

  • Completed Ahold USA Cost Change Form
  • Completed Should Cost Form (must be completed w. your Category Mgr)
  • A Letter on the Company Letter Head outlining the specific reason for the cost change.

Due to the comprehensive nature of the forms, it is our recommendation that we begin the cost change process approximately 5 months in advance of the desired cost change date. This should allow us to accommodate Ahold’s turnaround time to assist in completing the Should Cost form, as well as any unforeseen push-back from their end.

It’s also important to note that Ahold has been very vocal about resisting cost increases due to rises in transportation or freight costs. We understand that very may well be the cause, and encourage you to cite supporting indexes/economic trends in your Company letters, but just want you to be aware of the likelihood of a cost change being rejected, or negotiated down for this reason.

While it may be a challenge initially, we’re confident that the increased time and attentiveness given to our plans will help make this adjustment to their new process as smooth and seamless as possible. Please feel free to reach out with questions/concerns, and as always, thank you for your partnership.

Best regards,

Dan Cignarella

Senior Vice President

RDD Associates, LLC

To download the PDF release of this post please click here: Client Communication – Ahold Cost Changes

Oct 292018

On Monday evening October 29th, Village Supermarkets and RDD Associates hosted a private cocktail reception featuring the New York Jets in Bin37 Public House located in ShopRite of Greater Morristown New Jersey. The culinary event celebrated Village’s innovative achievements in retail, charitable giving to the Food Bank of New Jersey and partnership with RDD Associates’ client sponsors. Approximately 100 brand sponsors and Village, Wakefern & RDD Associates team members were in attendance to kick off the holiday & tailgate-season with delicious hors de-oeuvres served up by Chef Danny Arturo and his staff in the Bin37 kitchen. Guests also enjoyed special appearances by New York Jets Linebacker Avery Williamson and members of the Jets Flight Crew. Brand sponsors of the event were featured in 11/18 Village ShopRite circulars and include: Almond Breeze, Arizona, Athenos, Aurora Natural, Bar S, Basso, Bays English Muffins, BelGioioso, Cabot, Cal-Maine Foods, Chefs’ Menu, Chef One, Delallo, Earthbound Farm, Edible Garden, Eggland’s Best, Finlandia, Five Acre Farms, Florida’s Natural, Friendship, Galbani, Glen Rock, Great American, Hood, Juniors, Pat LaFrieda, President, Sanissimo, Stonyfield, and Tabatchnick.


To download the PDF release of this post please click here: RDD Village Jets Event

Jul 232018

Dear Valued Client Partner,

The recent heat wave reminds us that we’re well into the summer season and nearly 7-months into calendar year 2018, and I think it’s an appropriate time to share with you a brief RDD and marketplace update. As you are likely aware, RDD Associates LLC is celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and the RDD team remains as energized and passionate as ever to provide trading partners a distinctive, perishables-focused service solution. RDD is proud to represent the broadest portfolio of leading perishables brands in the market, and I thank you for your long-standing support and commitment to our company.

So, what’s new at RDD in 2018? I’m pleased to share with you several of the important and progressive initiatives we’ve been implementing:

In December, 2017, RDD Southeast, our perishables-focused, full service sales agency based in Charlotte, NC, opened for business, servicing AD’s Food Lion banner and all major grocery and wholesale customers across the region.

  • With the addition of Food Lion, we are proud to offer a seamless Ahold Delhaize service solution for headquarter and retail continuity coverage at all AD brands through “RSM”, our regional service solution through the RDD brands (Metro NY and the Southeast) and our partners ProStar (Mid-Atlantic) and Matrix (New England).
  • RDD has significantly expanded our Metro New York — urban/independent grocery retail continuity coverage, which includes an exclusive partnership program with Krasdale’s C-town and Bravo supermarkets to build distribution levels and sales volumes in perishables.
  • RDD continues to expand our “[email protected]” focus, to include the launch of the region’s first supermarket-distributed “meal kit” program at ShopRite.
  • RDD and our RSM partners have invested in an enhanced syndicated data platform with a recent conversion to IRI’s Unify platform, and we’ve added a new associate, Lisa Bonomo, to our business insights and analytics department. Lisa previously worked in digital commerce at Toys R Us.
  • RDD continues to expand our focus on digital marketing programming and shopper e-commerce (to include ShopRite from Home, Ahold’s Peapod, and Walmart’s Jet.com).
  • RDD is expanding our business management team with the reassignment of Matt Thennes to Business Manager — Dairy, and the promotion of Tom Murgia to Associate Business Manager — Fresh Foods.
  • In August, RDD is adding a new Customer Manager for Dairy and Frozen at Wakefern, with significant industry experience at Wakefern in both business disciplines, plus perishables specialty foods.

So, how’s the business environment in the marketplace? Like the majority of supermarket chains across the US, Metro New York, Mid-Atlantic and New England grocers are struggling to maintain their base transactional levels, with total sales revenues either in decline or marginally increasing only due to modest inflation. Even several of our largest customers have experienced declining sales. The contributing factors impacting traditional grocery sector sales are well documented in the news…consumer-direct/e-commerce sales from Amazon, Walmart and multiple upstarts; increased competition from the “extreme value” operators like Aldi, Dollar General and Lidl; increased competition from “experiential” chains like Whole Foods and Wegmans; a resurgence in the restaurant/foodservice sector; and broad changes in purchase behaviors related to generational, demographic and lifestyle changes. That said, fortunately the majority of RDD’s client brands have performed quite well during the 1st half of 2018, and are experiencing favorable sales versus industry trends. I’m pleased to report that we’re on track to achieve our annual budget and retail sales goals for 2018.

So, what’s new at ShopRite? Wakefern’s 2017 fiscal year was among their most challenging in decades, with flat or declining category sales across multiple departments and at Price Rite. As part of a broader initiative to restore growth and chart a progressive strategy for the foreseeable future, Wakefern membership (owners) directed the leadership team led by Chris Lane, EVP, to engage several management consulting firms to assess company performance, identify key areas for focused resource investments, and activate progressive strategies to accelerate sates and improve financials. Included among these strategies are:

  • Formalized negotiations with Wakefern’s largest supplier partners, leveraging their purchasing scale to lower costs and increase promotional funding in exchange for enhanced merchandising at the shelf. It remains to be seen what the long term impact this will have on category sales, but it does appear that suppliers’ cost-to-serve Wakefern is increasing.
  • Expanded focus on developing Wakefern’s private brands… Procurement veterans, Chris Skyers and Will Magistrelli, have been appointed VP — Private Label and Director — Product Innovation, respectively, and are charged with significantly increasing private brand penetration at ShopRite.
  • Promotion of Jim Dorey to President — Price Rite Marketplace… Jim recently attended the RDD Management Conference, and presented Price Rite’s evolving go-to-market strategy, with significant changes designed to build customer count and increase store sales.
  • Appointment of a new SVP — Marketing… Industry veteran Erik Keptner joined Wakefern earlier this month, and is responsible for private brands, digital commerce, corporate merchandising, advertising and social media. He previously held a variety of executive roles at Ahold USA.
  • Jeff Reagan is appointed SVP — Operations, responsible for improving merchandising coordination between Wakefern and membership stores, which includes activation of Wakefern’s ISE reset program.

What’s new at Ahold Delhaize? Last summer, AD announced their strategic redirection to decentralize merchandising and field operations to align with their five (5) supermarket banners and Peapod, and created RBS, Retail Business Services division, responsible for “own brands” coordination. The strategy officially launched in January, and continues to evolve as it is executed in real-time. That said, the decentralized brand-centric supplier engagement processes and protocols are being communicated and increasingly more predictable and routine, and key staffing is in place.

Recently, AD introduced a new decision-support platform developed collaboratively with IRI called Brands Insights Gateway. Gateway is an integrated technology business solution, combining several previously stand-alone platforms covering POS (syndicated) data, FSP (frequent shopper program) data and Supply Chain (RSI) data. AD will invite a number of larger scale suppliers to participate in Gateway, effectively outsourcing some of the daily oversight of merchandising and supply chain responsibilities, and performance metrics to the supplier.

Last, but not least, what’s new at with our Metro New York independents? After the A&P/Pathmark liquidation in 2016, Metro New York’s independent banners and co-ops significantly benefited from increased co-op membership and store count, due to the re-bannering of approximately 50 stores. Unfortunately, throughout 2017 and so far during 2018, a new reality has set in with retail sales comp’s trending down, several store closures and a number of defections to other member groups. That said, the urban/independent sector remains critically important to succeeding in the New York marketplace, with over 1,000 stores and aggregate New York Market ACV of approximately 35%. Here are a couple of changes directly impacting our businesses:

  • Allegiance recently announced adding 40 new stores to the co-op’s roster this summer, increasing store count to approximately 130. Most of the new units come from Gristede’s (which had been supplied by Wakefern), plus a number of former ASG stores (Associated, Pioneer and Met Foods).
  • Sales and membership growth at Key Foods, the #3 supermarket banner in the marketplace and #1 in NYC, has plateaued with a slight decrease in store count. However, Key Foods leadership reports that this should reverse in the back half of 2018, with a renewed uptick in banner conversions. In addition, Key has announced several associate reassignments, to include long time Director of Dairy, Daisy Colon, moving to a similar role managing Grocery, current Frozen Director Lisa Gniewkowski moving to Dairy, and a new associate, Tamekia Bolden, managing Frozen. We wish all three women terrific success in their new positions, and especially want to thank Daisy for her special trading partnership with RDD over many years!

We invite all of our valued clients to partner with RDD in the investments and initiatives outlined here including…

  • Partnership opportunities to expand your business with RDD Southeast for Food Lion, Harris
  • Teeter, MDI Lowes, Ingles and the remaining Southeast customer base.
  • Insights and Analytics support from our existing and recently enhanced team
  • Participation in our Krasdale “KoolTemp” program to improve promotional efficacy and retail placement
  • Representation for your brands to gain best in class placement and promotion with Hoboken, NJ-headquartered Jet.com

As you can see, there is a lot happening in our marketplace and RDD is working diligently to insure that we provide our client and customer partners with performance-driven merchandising solutions. If you have any questions or topics you’d like to discuss in greater detail, please don’t hesitate to contact me or any RDD senior manager to arrange a convenient time and venue.

Thank you again for your continued support and business partnership with RDD!

Best regards,


Sep 192017

As we approach our 20th year in business, ROD continues to build on our heritage of success by expanding organizational capacity and performance effectiveness by evolving the associate team to meet both current and future challenges of a changing marketplace. Our commitment to sustain RDD’s position as the region’s leading independent, perishables-focused sales agency is unwavering, and we will continue to thoughtfully channel the necessary investments to fuel RDD’s growth and stability. I remain very confident about our opportunities to grow sales in the second half of 2017, but we must remain hyper-focused on our clients and brands, and extremely customer-responsive. It’s with great pleasure and a modest dose of regret, that I announce the upcoming retirement of Bob Carley. Bob has been a highly visible leader and advocate for ROD, and a trusted advisor and great friend to me for close to two decades. He is deservedly recognized in the Metro NY supermarket industry for being the critical driver behind the development and growth of RDD’s Deli/Meat/Seafood/Foodservice/Bakery department, among one of the largest agency portfolios in business. Bob’s official retirement will take place late summer, 2017, and we are grateful he will remain on staff through the end of the year in an advisory role. I’m very pleased to announce the following leadership staff promotions at ROD, effective immediately:

  • Bob Weinmann, currently VP-Marketing & Strategic Planning, is promoted to Senior Vice President – Marketing & Strategic Initiatives. The “Doctor” is in his 5th year at ROD, and has been a vital contributor to the enterprise’s strategic progress in multiple areas, to include: shopper insights, digital marketing, enterprise branding/marketing, associate training, performance management and technology integration. In his expanded role, Bob will work closely with me and the leadership team on RDD’s expanding marketplace footprint, and business development through new client appointments. Bob will continue to report to me.
  • Bill Isaacs, currently Director – Business Development, is promoted to Vice President – Director of Sales, Wakefern. Bill is among the longest serving ROD employees, with 19 years of tenure, and has worked tirelessly to build ROD client sales performance at Wakefern. Bill is widely admired and respected by Wakefern management, ROD client trading partners and ROD colleagues alike, and has been instrumental in engaging and onboarding several new client business partners for the company. In his expanded role, Bill is now responsible for providing management oversight of all Wakefern procurement departments, to include: Dairy/Frozen, Deli, Meat, Foodservice, Produce, In-Store Bakery and Specialty Grocery. He will collaborate closely with the RDD Division VP’s, Business
    Managers and support staff to insure that are valued clients receive appropriate stewardship, sales-building programming, shopper and digital marketing support and strong advocacy, as they engage with this critically important trading partner. Bill will continue to report to Larry Thennes. 

  • Mike Huberfeld, currently Director-Sales, Deli/Meat/Seafood/Foodservice/Bakery, is promoted to Director-Fresh Foods. Mike is starting his 18th year at RDD, and has served in a number of diverse roles contributing to the growth and success of the department,  including business management for several major clients. Through the years, Mike has  worked side-by-side with Bob Carley to broaden RDD’s category and client portfolio. With consumers showing greater interest in prepared meals and fresher, healthier foods, we  anticipate significant growth for this department in the years ahead, thus, we will rename the department, “RDD -Fresh Foods”. We look forward to Mike’s leadership and insights to fuel this growth. Mike will report to Larry Thennes. 

Please join me in congratulating Bob on his extraordinary career of service, and Bob, Bill and Mike on their well-deserved promotions!

– Bob Cignarella


Click here for a PDF of this announcement

Aug 242017

Dear valued client trading partner,
For your awareness, over the course of their current fiscal year, Wakefern has announced several senior leadership appointments that are important elements of their organizational strategy moving forward:

  • In early December, 2016, Chris Lane was promoted to Executive Vice President, with strategic leadership responsibilities for all merchandising, procurement, operations, logistics, marketing and IT. The EVP position, second most senior role at Wakefern, had been vacant for several years, after Joe Sheridan had elevated from that role to President/COO. Chris joined Wakefern in 2003 from Duane Reade, and is a pharmacist by trade. Over his Wakefern tenure, his responsibilities dramatically expanded, from HBC to general merchandise, to grocery and non-foods, and finally oversight for all product divisions. Chris will continue to report to Joe and serves on the executive staff.
  • In late December, Chris began to restructure the merchandising and procurement department, with the appointment of Paul Patten to the new position of Group Vice President of Center Store, which includes the grocery, dairy/frozen and HBC/GM product divisions. Paul is a seasoned veteran at Wakefern, with a broad portfolio of management assignments in merchandising and procurement. Among those reporting to Paul is Dave Howlett, VP – Dairy/Frozen Merchandising. Paul reports to Chris, and joins Wakefern’s executive staff.
  • In early 2017, Wakefern announced two changes in their Retail Marketing department… Steve Henig, who has served as VP – Corporate Merchandising, was appointed VP – Digital Commerce & Innovation, and Chris Skyrs, who had served as VP – HBC, was appointed to backfill Steve. Both personnel moves demonstrate Wakefern’s ongoing commitment to continue expansion of their digital/on-line commerce platform, their life style/life stage shopper marketing focus, and their private brands marketing and penetration. Both Steve and Chris report to Jeff Reagan, SVP – Retail Marketing.
  • Last week, Chris Lane announce the appointment of Terry Murphy to the new position of Group Vice President of Fresh (formerly perishables), with senior leadership responsibility for meat, appy, produce, seafood, food service, fresh bakery and floral product divisions. Terry has worked at Wakefern for over 25 years, with a broad resume of procurement and management roles, and most recently has served as VP – Fresh Bakery Merchandising. Terry will report to Chris, and will also join the Wakefern executive staff.

As Wakefern closes out their 2017 fiscal year (September 30th) and gears up for 2018, we anticipate several additional assignment changes will be announced among line managers. Your RDD Business Manager will keep you apprised of any changes that directly affect your business.

We are very optimistic about the positive impact these leadership appointments will have on both Wakefern’s and our client trading partners’ businesses in the years ahead. Both Paul and Terry are outstanding professionals and are highly respected by the Wakefern team, ShopRite membership (owners) and the supplier community.

Throughout their respective careers, they have worked closely with RDD management, and are strong advocates for our service model. We wish them well in their expanded roles, and will closely collaborate and align RDD resources to support their strategies to build more productive RDD client – Wakefern trading relationships.

Best regards,

To download the PDF release of this post please click here: Executive Appointment at Wakefern Food Corp.

May 242017

May 6, 2017

RE: Ahold Delhaize management team announced

Dear Valued Client Partner,

As you may be aware, late last week Ahold Delhaize released a memorandum to their internal staff and supplier trading partners, announcing the key members of their emerging leadership team.  These appointments are part of their migration to a decentralized organizational design, supporting a “brand-centric” approach to merchandising strategy and programming.  Each of the five supermarket operating divisions, to include:  Stop & Shop, GIANT Carlisle, Giant Landover, Hannaford and Food Lion, are in the process of building field-based merchandising organizations, and these initial executive leadership appointments are consistent with their plan to activate brand-centric merchandising in early 2018.  I’ve attached a copy of the announcement as reported by Food Trade News for your reference.

At RDD, we have been closely monitoring the emerging Ahold Delhaize strategy, and continue to evolve our go-to-market strategy to insure continuity, focus and executional excellence, both during this period of change and after the new Ahold Delhaize divisional teams are in place.  RDD continues to work closely with our RSM – Regional Sales Solutions affiliate partners, The STAR/Pro-Star Companies and Matrix Sales & Marketing, Inc., to expand our field coverage footprint to now include Delhaize America divisions Food Lion and Hannaford, and offer interested clients a vertically-aligned coverage solution across all Ahold Delhaize.  Earlier this spring, RDD expanded our coverage geography into the Southeast, to include major grocery accounts like Food Lion, Harris Teeter and MDI/Lowes. Now that Ahold Delhaize has announced definitive decentralization plans, RDD will finalize our organizational structure and timeline to align accordingly. 

Should you have any questions regarding Ahold Delhaize coverage, or would like to further discuss with RDD leadership an appropriate coverage strategy, please don’t hesitate to contact me or any RDD senior manager to arrange a convenient time.

Thank you again for your continued support and business partnership!

Best regards,


May 242017

Among the well-deserved honorees at this year’s Friends of the Food Industry reception was RDD’s very own Tom Halley.  Tom was joined here by his loyal and loving wife, Shelley at the award ceremony.  Dennis Hickey, EVP-Merchandising at Krasdale, delivered a glowing endorsement of Tom and his professional contributions to the local food industry.  Tom has been important contributor to RDD’s success, with 16 years of service as a Senior Account Manager, but it’s his uncanny ability to adapt to our ever-changing marketplace, his extraordinary steadiness and sensibility to deliver solid results in a chaotic world, and his authenticity and honesty… this is what separates Tom from the pack!  It’s reassuring to know that a “nice guy can win” in business, and Tom’s may just be the nicest guy in the industry!

Tom and Shelley have two daughters, and one grandson, and they reside in Lake Hopatcong, NJ.  He’s a graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey.  Prior to RDD, Tom has worked his “selling magic” for some of the best organizations in the region, to include: Nestle, the Sayre’s Company, the Boerner Company and Marketing Specialists.  And, Tom has successfully sold and serviced just about every account in the market… From the largest to the smallest, he treats every customer with respect, dignity and unwavering service.  And although an incredibly humble person, Tom delights in the success of the client-customer partnerships he facilitates.

Therefore, it’s our delight and privilege to celebrate Tom’s recognition as the 2017 Friends of the Food Industry Lifetime Achievement Award winner.  Congratulations Tom!