The Hershey Co.'s Dave Onorato Announces Plans to Retire

Inducted into the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame in 2020, he's spent nearly four decades with the company.
Dave Onorato

HERSHEY, Pa. — The Hershey Co. veteran Dave Onorato, named to the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame in 2020, plans to retire from the company this year.

"Dave has been a mentor and trusted teammate to so many throughout his 38 years. His positive energy and fighting spirit are legendary. Because of his deep care and attention for his teammates and customers, he will continue in a transition role through the end of September," Hershey noted in a statement.

Onorato's connection to convenience store sales spans more than two decades since he first assumed the role of national director of convenience store sales in 2002. By 2005 he was named vice president of global convenience store sales, where he was responsible for developing Hershey's global c-store customers. A year later, he assumed responsibility for special trade classes (vending, fundraising and concession), as well as foodservice and dollar store sales. He was named vice president/general manager of all Hershey small-format business in 2015.

In addition to being a member of the CSNews Hall of Fame, Onorato is a member of the National Confectioners Association, NACS, Convenience Distributors Association, and NAMA. In 2012, he was elected to the NCSA Candy Hall of Fame. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Onorato is a proud husband and father, and active in his local community, Hershey added. 

Onorato reflected on his career during an interview with CSNews in late 2020. He said he recognizes that in today's landscape, it's uncommon to come by people who maintain a decades' long career at one company, like he has achieved. The obstacle, he noted, is challenging yourself to change in relevant ways, to accept new ways of getting the work done, and putting your A-game front and center.

"When you work at an organization for as long as I have, there is a tremendous amount of change, and there is a tremendous amount of new talent coming, so there's a challenge to make sure you are changing with the times and that you are making yourself more relevant every day by learning and growing," he explained.

Onorato has had a front-row seat to change in the c-store industry as well. The two most notable shifts in retail, according to the Hershey executive, are continued consolidation and the evolution to omnichannel experiences. On the flip side, the one constant that has remained is people's reliance on confections.

"Candy is a ubiquitous industry. It can be sold anywhere there is a register and, with COVID, we're seeing more than ever people's emotional connection to it," he said. "Candy plays an important role in helping people and bringing a smile to their face. We call it 'bringing moments of goodness to people,' and we really do believe in that."

Onorato stated during the 2020 interview that he advises up-and-coming leaders to enjoy the voyage and learn something new every day, so they can grow and prepare for the next role ahead.

"We talk about the definition of success is when opportunity meets preparedness, so continue to prepare yourself every day, so when that opportunity hits, you're ready to go," he expressed. "I always tried to be the very best I could be in every job I had, and I think that served me well. At the end of the day, when I got into that next role, I knew I would be ready."