Operating Partner, CEO TSG Food & Pet Group
Rob has more than 25 years of general management and brand building experience across multi-national businesses with global mega-brands as well as numerous founder-led PE backed portfolio companies with emerging high growth brands. Rob has led the successful growth agenda and exit of multiple food/pet portfolio companies as a senior advisor, board member, board chairman, and on occasion as CEO.
Prior to joining TSG, Rob was General Manager of Del Monte Foods' $2 billion+ Pet Products Division, where he orchestrated a significant financial and marketplace turnaround for the Division. Prior to Del Monte, Rob spent more than twenty years with Mars Incorporated in general management, marketing, innovation and selling roles across their Petcare, Snackfood and Ice Cream sectors. At Mars, Rob was widely credited in Pet for the success of the Pedigree brand franchise. Also at Mars in Confectionery, he was the innovator credited for being first to fuse dark chocolate and associated antioxidant benefits - leading to the global launch of Cocoapro. Rob earned a B.S. in both Business Marketing and Economics from California State University at Chico and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
What attracted you to TSG?
The TSG team. A rare combination of extremely smart, vastly experienced people with both common sense and high integrity. I was attracted to the firm’s unique ability to help growth-oriented founder-led businesses achieve their brand building goals easier, faster, and better. In addition to the people at TSG, I was drawn to their demonstrated bias to action and decision orientation which is a critical success factor that not many firms possess nor showcase consistently.
What makes TSG different than other places you’ve worked?
At TSG, I spend the vast majority of my time working across portfolio companies with founders and their teams to help them drive their specific growth and profit agendas. TSG is focused heavily on helping add value to teams, businesses, and their respective brands that already have high growth and profit potential. We know that not every business has the same needs. As such, we tap into our vast array of industry leading resources to best assist portfolio companies reach their goals as efficiently and effectively as possible. At TSG, we don’t apply a one-size-fits-all approach, and, instead work with each team based upon the unique needs that each circumstance presents.
What attracted you to the business of brand building?
I am keenly intrigued with the art and science of brand building. To me, brand building is the vehicle that brings great products/services ideas to life, adds enduring trust and imbues emotional meaning to consumers beyond the product execution itself …and importantly–superior profits to the owners. I believe that each unique product or service has a unique roadmap to building and maximizing its brand value. As such, each brand I have the opportunity to work on with a portfolio company can be improved appreciably through applying both objective and subjective brand building methods.
What are the keys to building a successful brand?
The key elements in building a successful brand that transcend time include:
1. Great products
2. Building and maintaining brand equity and affinity
4. Optimizing distribution and accessibility
5. Obtaining high quality and reliable dependable source of supply
6. Ensuring raw material and manufacturing input costs are congruent with market pricing
7. Hiring and retaining great people
Taking the product as a given, building brand equity and affinity is the amalgamation of the above but can most readily be driven by marketing communication including elements like graphic design, advertising, and promotions. Together these communications help create an indelible, unique and desired essence of brand identity in the mind of consumers. Innovation is another key element in building a successful brand. Innovation is the primary vehicle to ensure a brand stays current with continuously evolving consumers and mega-trends. Even with design and innovation–no brand can be built successfully without arms-reach availability. As such, developing and executing strategies to ensure products are available to consumers through brick-and-mortar and/or online is a big-time must. While not as glamorous, having a highly dependable supply chain is the backbone of building a brand. Not only must a brand be available when requested (manufacturing and inventory planning), but there is not much more damaging to a brand than an event that brings in to question product integrity or brand trust (e.g. recall or withdrawal). Successful brands invest in materials consumers are willing to pay for. Otherwise said, many brands over specify its component parts. Over-investment in raw materials and labor can be a waste of money and dilutive to the value proposition unless those materials and labor are expected by consumers and are part of the brands value proposition. Lastly, and it goes without saying, building a successful brand takes highly skilled people and agencies.