A Passion for Convenience & Beverages

Supplier Hall of Famer Kevin Martello finds working with the c-store industry the most rewarding aspect of his role at Keurig Dr Pepper.

A job as a produce clerk and bag boy with the Florida-based supermarket chain Kash n’ Karry started Kevin Martello’s career in the food and beverage industry when he was in grade school. 

As an adult, he worked for a food broker and sales agency, becoming a principle with Austin Nichols & Co. managing the sales of Yoo-hoo and Orangina. This started his journey with what is now Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) and for nearly 35 years, he has worked with multiple retail formats and the company’s iconic brands including Dr Pepper, Snapple, Sunkist, 7Up, Canada Dry and more. 

Of all the retail formats he’s worked with, the convenience store industry is what fuels his passion.

"Convenience retail is the most rewarding aspect of the business — it brings challenges, but it is purposeful and has been my passion for the span of my career,” said Martello, this year’s supplier inductee into the 2023 Convenience Store News Hall of Fame. “The collaboration among many of our retail partners is unlike any other channel I’ve managed in my career. There is a distinct appetite for learning, testing and applying key learnings generated by the sharing of information in the c-store channel that stems from a shared vision for a consumer-first approach.”

Additionally, the support that both the industry and especially the retailers themselves provide in local communities is unlike any other channel of trade, he explained, noting that “convenience retailers are truly a part of the fabric of the communities in which they operate and serve.”

In his role today as vice president, food service solutions and industry relations for convenience retail at Keurig Dr Pepper, Martello oversees a national team of sales representatives who provide beverage solutions across the convenience store sector. He also supports KDP’s efforts within the industry through associations, events and advocacy — something he is very proud of. He is not only a former chairman of the NACS Supplier Board, but also currently serves as the Nominating Chair, along with being part of the NACS Political Action Committee.

These days, Martello is focused on planning for the next year with KDP’s retail partners as there is a lot of excitement around product launches, innovation and marketing within the company’s portfolio of packaged and hot/cold dispensed beverages, he noted.

“Every day is a new day, and each day presents something new and fresh for our team to consider,” he said. “We are laser-focused on creating opportunities in partnership with our retail partners to surprise and delight their guests — packaged and dispensed beverages play a key role — and to support our retailer partners by driving trips in-store, increasing food and beverage attachment rates, and growing overall baskets.”

Words of Wisdom 

What Martello loves most about his job is working with the people in his company and its partners to create solutions that improve business, while establishing KDP as an “indispensable partner and trusted advisor” in the industry.

Throughout his career, he received many pieces of advice that helped him on his path of growth, but there are two key moments that stand out as advice he still remembers and relies on today. 

The first was from a colleague who told him to “get off the wall and put out your hand.” This advice pertained to networking and creating connections with the people around him. “It pertained to the simple notion of an introduction — a handshake can build your network and grow your influence and support,” he explained. 

The second piece of advice was to “never bring a problem to the table without a potential solution.” While you may not have the final solution, Martello said you must be prepared, do the homework and establish a firm point-of-view for how to solve the issue.

Navigating Changes & the Future

Throughout his many years in the beverage industry, Martello has witnessed a lot of change. 

Looking back, he says he’s enjoyed the “very exciting segment” of packaged and dispensed beverage in the convenience space, and has witnessed the constant evolution and creation of new products and segments. 

He has also watched as the c-store industry has changed and evolved over the years.

“Among the most notable changes is how the definition of convenience continues to evolve,” he said. “We’ve seen retail platforms across various channels and foodservice outlets adapting their business models to win over the ‘traditional’ convenience retail occasion. These changes have been amplified by increased digital and social capabilities, as well as the speed of the transaction.”

As for the future of the convenience store industry, Martello believes there will continue to be a “deeper shopper activation” driven by the rise in engaging digital marketing campaigns both inside and outside the store. 

He also believes c-store retailers will continue to focus on encouraging more trips to the store, converting shoppers from outside to inside, and increasing sales. Building loyalty and increasing the overall basket size of shoppers will remain front and center, he predicted, pointing out that marketing programs can help with this. 

“Marketing programs that incentivize beverage and food bundling are a great way to engage shoppers across dayparts with not only packaged and dispensed beverages, but also salty snacks, candy and freshly prepared categories,” he said. 

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds