“An entrepreneur must be highly disciplined and a leading-edge thinker.
Becoming a successful business leader in today’s world is no easy feat. One has to face a lot of challenges, go through rigorous phases, keep up with the trends, and also handle the competition. And this is where the journey just begins!
This cover story is dedicated to one such leader and company, that has been nothing less than a revolution in the Retail industry. Winston Weber, Chairman & CEO, Winston Weber and Associates is much more than a successful business leader but a motivation, an inspiration, a pioneer, etc. More than everything, he is a true leader and one of the foremost innovators and thinkers, taking the whole Retail industry into the future!
After accomplishing many feats in his career at such an early age working in senior management positions with major consumer products companies. Winston decided to move beyond corporate life, and work for a single corporation, where he could contribute to the growth of many companies and also contribute to driving change throughout the consumer products industry.
This led to starting Winston Weber and Associates. Winston’s 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 packaged goods companies.
A revolution in the Retail industry – Winston Weber and Associates
Winston Weber and Associates (WWA) was founded in 1985, with its base of operations in Tampa, Florida. The company was founded with a goal – “To have a global perspective and provide leadership thinking with practical, implementable solutions”.
Winston Weber and Associates is known for providing more value and client return on investment than other large consulting firms that mostly house junior consultants with minimal business experience and those loose consortium consultancies, staffed by independent contractors, who typically experience inconsistent quality control.
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 the team’s dedication to providing leading-edge thinking with implementable solutions have helped them to achieve their goal and amass an irrefutable reputation in the market!
The journey of Winston Weber and Associates?
The company’s biggest challenge came knocking right when they were getting their first clients, which came quite early in their journey. They had to manage and provide indomitable services, along with setting up their company, which was quite a daunting task for the company. It is their dedication, perseverance, and exceptional service arsenal that made their first client keep them on retainer for 23 years.
A much bigger challenge is staying relevant in today’s marketplace. Since Winston founded the company 36 years ago, industry consolidation has reduced potential clients by close to 50%. This is compounded by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on logistics, human resources, and changed consumer purchase behavior.
It was the constant evolution of services, and new products/services being offered, post-pandemic, that gave them a greater competitive advantage than in the past. This allowed the company and its team to push past the challenges and emerge as the leaders, providing unbeatable services, setting industry standards, and breaking conventions!
This has enabled Winston Weber and Associates to serve a highly diverse group of clients including retailers, consumer products companies, and B2B companies ranging from $100 million to over $70 billion in sales. They have exceeded geographic expectations with clients in the U.S. Canada, Europe, Mexico, South America, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan!
Factors that triggered the growth of WWA?
Winston Weber and Associates has not only set benchmarks but has exceeded industry leadership objectives. In the late 1980s, they introduced the concept of Retailer/Supplier Partnering, now referred to as Collaboration, in the grocery industry.
This is a concept that today continues to grow across the industry. In 1990, they introduced the concept of Category Management to the U.S. market. Today, Category Management is being practiced by supermarket chains, drug chains, and mass merchandisers throughout the world.
Category Management has been a significant contributor to sales and profit growth for both retailers and consumer product manufacturers. This revolution in the grocery industry has not only established their prowess but has also enabled them to propel their growth and development.
What factors establish Winston Weber and Associates’s long-standing success?
One of the key factors that strongholds Winston Weber and Associate long-standing success is staying relevant to consistently offer a very attractive value proposition that differentiates them from others. This sounds simple, but Winston Weber and Associates and its team make sure that it is provided with a lot of other ingredients, such as:
- Their extensive experience with retailers, combined with their work with consumer products manufacturers at the strategic and operating levels, provides an unparalleled understanding of the inter-relationship between both partners.
- They only provide senior consultants with over 30 years of experience on all engagements… Project staffing is not the typical ‘leverage’ model where less experienced consultants conduct the majority of engagement activities.
- The company believes in building on client expertise, combined with their insights and expertise, to develop solutions that align with client cultures, operating philosophies, and capabilities.
- They encourage clients to stretch thinking and desired outcomes beyond today’s best practices. They explore a world of new possibilities and develop breakthrough initiatives that enable their clients to stay ‘ahead-of-the-game’.
- Their end-to-end process, from strategy through tactics to implementation, is a unique strength that ensures the successful implementation of improvement initiatives and the achievement of desired outcomes.
- Their project proposals include client investment transparency, a level of detail that enables prospective clients to understand each component of their proposed deliverables. It is of paramount importance to them that clients receive the highest return on their investment.
Class apart services
Winston Weber and Associates over their journey of more than 3 decades have achieved countless accomplishments, enabled clients to grow manifolds, and in that process perfected and added new services to their fleet.
Today, they are viewed as a high-value resource in areas such as strategic planning, organization restructuring, business process reengineering, supply chain optimization, strategic retailer/supplier collaboration, trade promotion optimization, brand marketing, shopper insights/marketing, category management evolution, shopper solutions planning, in-store merchandising, merchandising systems, tools guidance, skills development and more.
Their consulting services are not limited to just one segment but are available to retailers, wholesalers, distributors, consumer products manufacturers, sales /marketing companies, and information providers.
“Our services are tailored to the operating procedures and cultures of our clients. We are not a “textbook” consulting firm” – Winston Weber, Chairman & CEO, Winston Weber and Associates
New additions to the service arsenal?
The team of Winston Weber and Associates is always abreast of rapidly changing industry dynamics and applies leading-edge thinking to develop “future state” products/services.
Because the grocery industry is experiencing the most dynamic change in decades with expanding food lifestyles, digital connectedness, social media, online shopping, delivery options, and increasing generational complexities. They are introducing beyond category management Shopper-Centric Retailing.
“An all-encompassing and transformative business model which focuses all functions within a retailer on increasing sales by exceeding shopper expectations.”
This new business model provides the support necessary in today’s shopper-centric environment to deliver a sustainable incremental gain.
This means evolving beyond ingrained business policies and practices to a fully integrated top-down, cross-functional focus on the shopper, shopper solutions, and enhancements to the shopping experience.
They are also introducing Shopper Solutions Change Enablement Training. Today’s hyper-evolving world requires continuous evolution, not a one-time change. Change management is no longer sufficient, we need to build the universally required competencies of Non-Routine Cognitive Skills, abstract reasoning, systems thinking, and the ability to experiment that allows our teams to continuously adapt and excel.
This means bringing together the foundational skills introduced by category management with the shift to shopper-centric strategies and processes driven by the current digital revolution. This approach prepares a company’s team for success with trading partners by focusing on the HOW: the infrastructure, people behaviors, and retailer/manufacturer strategic collaboration. This is a first in the industry!
They also have a new upgraded collaborative business planning process designed to significantly improve the ROI for resources deployed and a new and advanced multicultural initiative.
Leadership at Winston Weber and Associates
After completion of his graduation from Syracuse University in 1962, Winston spent 23 years working with consumer products companies. He spent the first ten years with Colgate Palmolive and then General Foods, 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, by the corporate cultures, in driving change designed to improve the work environment and performance”, Winston adds.
Winston left General Foods for Beechnut Baby Food as Vice President of Sales. Baby Food sales representatives not only sold but also stocked the shelves of all supermarkets. A very expensive responsibility. Competition followed immediately. This led to their decision to expand nationally. They eliminated 1500 sales/shelf-stocking positions and considerable expense.
After this glorious achievement, Winston was invited by Sunshine Biscuits to be their Vice President of Sales. At that time they were losing money. His responsibility was to fix the problem. Winston designed a strategy and plan to move Sunshine 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 them gain market share.
Followed by this, Winston was asked to join the Drackett Company (Windex) as Regional Vice President followed by a promotion to President of Sales in his first year! At Drackett, he made several 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. Drackett was an excellent experience, which taught Winston a great deal and insight on several things. Soon, he was approached by Atari as Senior Vice President of Sales and was tasked to bring in consumer products retail channel experience and to make major changes to the Sales Organization structure and business processes.
His final corporate experience before founding Winston Weber and associates was President of the Schering Plough Sales Corporation, where similar changes were made.
All of these experiences and diverse learning experiences taught Winston intricate details of the industry, right from the ground up. This equipped him to create a company that is nothing less than a revolution in the Retail industry.
“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. This has been accomplished and maintained during our 36 years” – Winston Weber, Chairman & CEO, Winston Weber and Associates
“Never let your mind age beyond 45… always focus on innovation and the future”
The unmatched team of Winston Weber and Associates
The team of Winston Weber and Associates houses some of the best industry experts and professionals. A senior consultant 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 Winston Weber and Associates.
Winston Weber and Associates team brings together a unique blend of skills, expertise, and a “real world” business perspective to each client, and is more than capable of dealing with companies trying to leverage leadership positions in the marketplace as well as turnaround situations.
“I look after my consulting team members as peers. We have open discussions, a few challenging times, a few laughs, and high sensitivity to family situations”, Winston adds.
More importantly, whatever the situation, the team has 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.