Velocity Conference Adds Executive Speakers from Petsmart, Ace Hardware & Federated

We are excited to announce the next set of speakers for this year’s groundbreaking Velocity: The My Private Brand Conference each of which exemplifies the theme of this year’s event “The Revolution Begins with You!” This is inspired by the transformational changes happening in retail and private brand. It calls the industry not merely to take ownership but to drive change.

Velocity: The My Private Brand Conference runs September 17-19, 2018. The event will be held in Uptown Charlotte, NC at the beautiful Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel.

Early Bird tickets are available until June 19th.


Paul Hunt, Petsmart

Senior Vice President, Sourcing and Product Development

Paul Hunt, SVP of Sourcing, Product Development and Branding oversees the full lifecycle of development at PetSmart, as well as the design and sourcing of all Petsmart proprietary brands across the entire store.

Paul has more than 25 years of experience driving strategic vision through brand management, most recently serving as vice president of Product Development and Branding, Consumables at PetSmart. Prior to joining PetSmart, he held the roles of vice president of Dairy, Deli and Cooler and vice president of Proprietary Brands at Sam’s Club. Earlier in his career, he served in several leadership positions at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Meredith Corporation, Nestle Waters North America, Reynolds Metals Consumer Products and Kraft Foods.

Paul earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing from Auburn University. He lives in Scottsdale and has two children, Austin and Jason. Additionally, Paul is a pet parent to two cats, Molly and Piper.


Jen Linke, Federated Group

Vice President Brand Management

Jen is the Vice President of Brand Management at Federated Group where her responsibilities include driving brand and category strategies in the private label industry.  She oversees multiple teams including category management, category analytics and quality assurance.  She also is responsible for the management of SailPointe Creative Group, Federated’s in-house design agency. SailPointe provides creative marketing services such as package & point of sale design, tradeshow booth creation and photography to grow Federated’s brands as well as those of many retail customers and brand owners.

Prior to Federated, Jen was Divisional Merchandising Manager for Sears Holdings Co. (Kmart) and managed several categories for branded and private brands.  She also led cost reduction initiatives through product negotiations, sourcing opportunities and implemented logistic solutions.

Before Sears/Kmart, she worked in private brands at Aldi for 14 years overseeing a variety of grocery, perishable & non-food categories first as a buyer and then as a Group Director. She also managed the advertising and marketing for the company.  Jen has her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Valparaiso University where she also played volleyball for four years.


Deanna Dorrance, Ace Hardware

Brand Manager

Deanna Dorrance is the Global Private Label Brand Manager at Ace Hardware Corporation, the nation’s leading retailer-owned cooperative. She oversees the brand strategy and packaging execution of Ace’s seven private label brands. The largest brand in their portfolio is the Ace Brand, which includes over 10,000 SKUs in 250 categories.


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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.