Dave Rhodes is the new director of produce and floral for Findlay, Ohio-based Fresh Encounter, which manages banners including Needler’s Fresh Market, Community Markets, Remke Markets and Chief.
In his new role, Rhodes oversees pricing, category management, category alignment, selection, buying, merchandising, ad writing, corporate training programs and more.
Rhodes most recently served as the retail promotion director for the Northeast for the Idaho Potato Commission. Previously, Rhodes spent nearly 18 years at Marsh Supermarkets, including the last six-plus years as the vice president of produce.
Rhodes said he very much enjoyed his time with the Idaho Potato Commission and will miss the great people there and the team with which he worked. As he visited different retailers as part of the job, however, he missed being on that side of the business.
“I’m a retail guy,” Rhodes said. “I’ve been a retail guy all my life, and I just love it. I love dealing with the people on a daily basis, working with our produce managers, our store managers, our district managers every day, making sure that we put the best product out to our customers to bring them in.”
Rhodes started with Fresh Encounter in March. Overseeing produce for a company with numerous banners comes with opportunities and challenges, many of which overlap.
The goal is to bring best practices to all the banners while embracing the elements that make each one unique, with the result of driving more business for all of them.
“With the equipment and how we merchandise and what we have available to us, how we go to market, the ads that are created, each one is uniquely different, so yes, there’s a lot of challenges on a daily basis, but that’s what makes it fun,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes praised the management group of Fresh Encounter, led by CEO Michael Needler Jr., for the combination of banners that it has put together.
“We have some great, great markets,” Rhodes said. “There’s a lot of opportunities in every one of them. There’s different opportunities in every one of the markets that we can be better at, so I think in each one, as I get into the markets and take a look around, there’s tweaking that we can do that is going to make this better and offer some better quality, maybe some more variety in some stores, but we’ve got a couple really nice banners out there doing a fantastic job on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s just going to be some fine-tuning, some tweaking out there, but overall, it’s just going to be a lot of fun,” Rhodes said.