Management refers to the administration of business practices to create the highest level of efficiency possible within an organization. It is concerned with converting materials and labor into goods and services as efficiently as possible to maximize the profit of an organization. So does Winston and his team attempt to balance costs with revenue to achieve the highest net operating profit possible.
Winston Weber, Founder and CEO of Winston Weber & Associates (WWA), a leader in management consultancy, creates a framework for managing the effect of new business processes, changes in organizational structure, or cultural changes within an enterprise.
We at Fortunes Crown got into conversation with Mr. Weber to know more about the company and how it is helping the businesses and individuals as a whole.
I am viewed by many in business as an icon with high expectations and leading-edge thinking. I introduced retailer/supplier partnering, now referred to as collaboration, to the industry in the late 1980s and Category Management to the U.S. in 1990. I introduced the new beyond Category Management business model Shopper-Centric Retailing in 2019 and the new Change Enablement Training in 2022. I love helping companies improve their competitive position in the marketplace, influencing the future of the grocery industry with new, highly productive concepts and upgrading company work environments that encourage open discussion and leading-edge thinking. Our clients view me as one who “says it as he sees it”. While many may think I may lead a life totally involved in business life, I should mention that in 2022 I am celebrating my 56year marriage to my wife Linda. My family is equally important to me.
Please tell us about your educational/professional background. How was your life before WWA?
After I graduated from Syracuse University in 1962, I spent my first 23 years working with leading consumer products companies including Colgate Palmolive, General Foods, Beechnut Baby Food, Sunshine Biscuits, The Drackett Products Company, Schering Plough and Atari. The first ten years were spent with two major companies, moving up quickly from Retail Salesman to Sales Supervisor, District Manager and Regional Manager Positions. These were excellent corporate experiences that taught me a lot, but I wanted more. I felt too limited and wanted corporate cultures that would enable me to drive change designed to improve the work environment and overall company performance. Leaving General Foods, I obtained my first Vice President Sales position in year eleven and for the next thirteen years, my titles included Vice President, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President and President of Sales. During this period, I accomplished my objective of having the latitude to make changes designed to improve performance. In the first company I tested and expanded nationally a plan that eliminated expensive Baby Food Company shelf-stocking across the industry. At my next company, where we were losing money, I restructured the sales and distribution organizations from direct store to warehouse delivery. This immediately moved the company from a several million-dollar loss to several million-dollar profits. This move also helped us gain market share. At my next company, I was briefly Vice President Sales before being promoted to President of Sales.
I made a number of organizational changes including moving women and black Americans into management positions for the first time. Considering this was 40+ years ago, this was well ahead of when most companies made similar moves. While this was an excellent experience, and I would have stayed longer, I was approached by another company, Atari, with an employment package I could not resist. As Senior Vice President Sales, I was hired to bring in consumer products retail channel experience and to make major changes to the Sales Organization structure and business processes. This was accomplished. My final corporate experience was as President of the Schering Plough Sales Corporation, where similar changes were made.
Briefly describe your company and the products or services you are offering.
I decided it was now time to leave a single corporation where I could contribute to the growth of many companies and also contribute to driving change throughout the consumer products industry. This led to my decision to start Winston Weber & Associates, Inc. in 1985. My goal was to form a small “boutique” consulting firm with a global perspective that would provide leadership thinking with practical, implementable solutions to grocery retailers and consumer package goods companies. I wanted to employ a controlled growth strategy with an emphasis on providing more value and client return on investment than very large consulting firms staffed mostly by junior consultants, many with minimal business experience. This has been accomplished and maintained during our 36 years.
Our senior consultants must have at least 30 years of business experience in general management, retail management, sales management, brand management, or supply chain management in the consumer products industry before joining WWA. I expect them to bring a unique blend of skills, expertise and a “real world” business perspective to each client assignment and are ideally suited to deal with companies trying to leverage leadership positions in the marketplace as well as turnaround situations. Importantly, whatever the situation, we have an in-depth appreciation for the need to focus on running the business while changing the business. This ensures the achievement of near-term performance targets while changing the business. More value and client return on investment mean an uncompromising emphasis on quality and trust, a “say it as we see it” approach and the ability to consistently exceed client expectations. These qualities and our dedication to providing leading-edge thinking with implementable solutions have helped us to achieve our goal…this is our reputation today.
Going back to your early career decisions, tell us what factors influenced your decision to be an executive in the grocery industry.
During my senior year in college, I spent a considerable amount of time interviewing every company that came on campus. Considering my degree is in the social sciences, I was very interested in going with a company that would fully utilize my human resource skills. It was quite clear that companies such as Proctor & Gamble, General Foods, Colgate Palmolive and others were the most qualified and best positioned to provide a career path that would satisfy my desires. I knew I would receive excellent training and an opportunity to grow.
Also, for extra motivation, my habit of reading and listening to the top business magazines and Television programs helped me mentally up to date.
Please highlight your expertise
Our expertise is in strategy, organization structure, business process upgrading, and skills development.
We have exceeded my geographic expectations with clients in the U.S. Canada, Europe, Mexico, South America, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. I am personally involved in every client project. My Delta Airlines mileage alone is 3.5 million miles.
When I think about what WWA has accomplished during the past 36+ years, we have gained a reputation that has enabled us to be known as the one consulting firm that truly understands retailers, consumer product manufacturers and the relationship between both parties, and the one firm providing leading-edge thinking and practical solutions. As the industry begins to experience the post-Covid new norm, WWA is well-positioned to continue its role as a highly influential consulting firm.
Who are your clients? How do you ensure the unbreakable faith of your clients?
Our clients include grocery retailers, mass merchants, drug chains, general merchandise stores and consumer products companies. We have a very loyal client base and reputation. We build and maintain these relationships through leading-edge thinking, practical solutions, highly experienced consultants and a “say it as we see it” approach. Our goal is to deliver 100%+10% at all times.
What are the primary challenges your company is currently facing? How have they affected your company?
Today, when compared to when we started 36 years ago, consolidation has reduced our potential client base by approximately 50%. Adding to this, issues related to the Covid Pandemic such as major logistics issues, human resource availability and new technologies investment has created a post-pandemic “new norm” as we move forward in 2022 and beyond. Based on recent surveys, we know that 56% of our prospective clients have not made the necessary organizational structure, business process and skills upgrading required to adequately support their recent investments. This aligns perfectly with our capabilities and future expectations.
How do you describe your leadership? What measures do you incorporate to ensure motivation and productivity within the workspace?
My responsibilities as the CEO of WWA are to have my finger on the pulse of the industry, have WWA’s role and responsibilities in the industry clearly defined, be the key marketer for WWA, help secure new clients, guide the preparation of client initiatives and sell clients on our solutions. It is extremely important for me to have a tight grasp on major industry issues and trends. For example, I have spent a lot of time this year determining the post-Covid19 new norm for both retailers and CPG companies. This has led to an adjustment in several of our capabilities with new leading initiatives planned as well as a major upgrading of our website.
If I define myself in one word, it is “Positive”. Whether it is business or personal, I do not know how to think negatively. If a negative situation is occurring, my mind immediately focuses on possible solutions.
Are you planning to launch any new products/services or advancements to your existing offerings? Kindly share your future goals. What are you most excited about?
Looking ahead, our goal will be to continue to provide leadership thinking with practical, implementable solutions. When considering the current hyper-evolving marketplace, I feel we are ideally positioned to continue to be a key resource for both retailers and consumer products companies. We are very prepared to deal with the post-Covid 19 “New Norm” in key areas that will need to be addressed by both retailers and consumer products companies. Our geographic focus will be the U.S., Canada, Mexico and South America.
My personal business goals are to stay mentally young and continue to be a key resource to both retailers and consumer products companies for years to come. I am now only in my 60th year in the industry and during this time there have been many new and challenging experiences. When considering the current hyper-evolving marketplace, I feel we are ideally positioned to be a key resource to both retailers and consumer products companies by continuing to offer leading-edge thinking and practical, implementable solutions. I am excited to continue to be actively involved in helping companies maintain and grow their competitive position in the marketplace.
Mention any awards and milestones that you and your company have received.
My biggest recognition is business executives want to listen to what I have to say. With clients, our proposal and closing meetings always include the Chief Operating Officers and senior executives across functions, I was invited to speak at industry conventions in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South America, and many articles have been published regarding our accomplishments. In fact, one global publication was just named WWA Impact Company of the Year. This year, for example, I will be on the overs of two global business magazines.
Tips for aspirants
My advice is quite simple. Focus on your accomplishments to date, your skills and how they align with the job and your business goals going forward. This enables you to stay focused on innovation, the future and how you can contribute to your business, your family and life for years to come. This will enable you to stay mentally young and active for years to come.