Bob Mariano, Gary Smith Recognized for PL Excellence

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Bob Mariano, Gary Smith Recognized for PL Excellence


Two retailer veterans – Roundy’s Bob Mariano and Safeway’s Gary Smith – are among the four new executives being inducted into the Private Label Hall of Fame, sponsored in a partnership between the New York-based Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) and Store Brands, a sister brand of Progressive Grocer.

For their contributions to the world of store brands, Smith and Mariano were honored during PLMA's 2017 Annual Meeting and Leadership Conference, which took place March 23-26 in Tucson, Ariz. Together with Tom Chaffee, of Sturm Foods and Peter Brennan, of Daymon Worldwide, the two retail executives join more than 50 private label leaders and pioneers in the Hall of Fame.

For his part, Smith played an important role in the growth of premium private label products with the launch of Safeway Select items in 1992, and assembled the team he needed to launch products that exceeded the category leaders in quality, taste and value. Mariano, meanwhile, became one of the most recognizable personalities as CEO of Chicagoland grocer Dominick’s, and then of Roundy’s. Appearing in Roundy’s ads and television commercials as “Chairman Bob,” he embodied his company’s promise of uncompromising quality and value for Roundy’s own brands.

In their sectors of the industry, Chaffee and Brennan both played critical roles in furthering private label innovation. Chaffee earned admiration throughout the industry for his honesty and integrity, serving in roles at Presto Products and TreeHouse Foods’ Sturm division between 1973 and 2016, when he retired. And Brennan, who recently passed away, made professionalism and inspiration the hallmarks of a management style that was indispensable to the growth and transformation of Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon, where he served in various roles starting in 1973, including president from 1994 to 2006.

“These are the people whose careers helped shape private label,” Brian Sharoff, president of PLMA, told the breakfast audience. “Today, four more leaders of our industry are being honored and, in so doing, we share pride in their achievements and gratitude for their service.”