Today begins a new series of interviews Christopher Durham, founder of My Private Brand and VP of retail brands at Theory House, will conduct with leaders from private brand manufacturers around the world. “MPB Insights” will feature short interviews consisting of five questions. The project is based on one main principle: the less useless words, the better. The goal is to give readers as much thought provoking, insightful information as possible. Less is more.
The first interview is with Clay Dockery. He has over thirty years of progressive management responsibility in the consumer products industry. Starting with Procter and Gamble and The Borden Company, He joined a startup group that ultimately became what is now Pinnacle Foods. He then moved into the private brand industry with American Italian Pasta Co. and The Kerry Group.
In 2010, Clay joined Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA as the Vice President of Retailer Brands. He works with a tremendous team of private brand professionals and enjoys life in Virginia Beach VA.
Dockery is a native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and graduated from the University of Mississippi affectionately known as Ole Miss.
Christopher: How did you get your started in the private brand business?
Clay: My start in private brand was truly accidental as I joined the American Italian Pasta Company primarily to sell brands. We were a big private brand supplier and I found that I enjoyed that side of the business so much more than selling brands. I never looked back!
Christopher: What is your proudest accomplishment?
Clay: My proudest accomplishment has been the associates that I have brought into the private brand industry that have been incredibly successful in their careers.
Christopher: What will private brand look like in 20 years?
Clay: I see private brand in 20 years as the dominant brand in virtually every category in which it competes. Retailers have done a phenomenal job of elevating quality and encouraging innovation. As consumer confidence grows and the quality proposition rewards their trust, I fully expect retailers to continue to drive this business.
Christopher: If you could give retailers one piece of advice what would it be?
Clay: Trust the supplier community! Many retailers continue to approach private brand as transactional rather than strategic. It is clear with respect to the retailers that are winning in the marketplace that mutual focus on the business from supplier and retailer is a far greater benefit than focus on short-term business results.
Christopher: What keeps you up at night?
Clay: The continuous evolution of the consumer is what keeps me up at night. The private brand industry still lacks the fundamental resources to fully invest in consumer insights. With the changes in consumer behavior, it is critical that retailers and suppliers share as much information as possible to address consumer needs. It is also critical that we map a strategy for how to share in success as well as in failure so that product development is not a one-sided proposition.