People on the Move: Kroger, Excentus, Marathon Petroleum & RAI

NATIONAL REPORT — Retailers, wholesalers and suppliers in the convenience store industry are only as good as their management teams and employees. In this special roundup, Convenience Store News runs down the most recent executive changes, new hires, promotions and people achievements happening in the industry. 

BBX Capital Corp. 

BBX Sweet Holdings, a subsidiary of BBX Capital Corp., named Kevin Coen as CEO of its new division Las Olas Confections and Snacks. Coen joined the company with more than 30 years of experience in managing leading consumer and confectionary brands, including serving as the president of The Popcorn Factory and Fannie May Brands, divisions of 1-800-Flowers. 


Excentus continued its expansion with the appointment of three executives who will lead the company's Fuel Rewards program growth, and convenience retail and consumer packaged goods categories.

The company has named:

  • Jeffrey T. Hassman as chief marketing officer, responsible for building best-in-class marketing and analytics to drive consumer engagement in the Fuel Rewards program and in Excentus' clients' loyalty programs; 
  • Mike Beltz, executive vice president and chief revenue officer, with oversight of the company's financial, sales and revenue strategies as it expands into new markets; and
  • Bob Roden, vice president of program development, responsible for overseeing and growing the company's client development strategies.

Innovative Control Systems 

Tom Bagnara is the news director of petroleum sales North America at Innovative Control Systems. In his position he is responsible for new business development of convenience store/petroleum corporate accounts, as well as developing and maintaining relations with the distribution channel in North America.

Bagnara began his car wash career at Turtle Wax Inc. in 1990 where he served in various capacities including sales management, national account sales and product development where he holds several patents for chemical dilution and application. In 2000 he was recruited to Ryko Manufacturing (now Ryko Solutions Inc., part of National Carwash Solutions) as regional sales manager, Midwest, and was responsible for a direct sales and distribution team in a 13-state region. He rose to the position of director of sales-Western U.S.

The Kroger Co.

Matt Perin has joined The Kroger Co. as head of government relations and regulatory affairs. Based in Washington, D.C., he will be responsible for Kroger's federal government relations efforts, including working closely with the company's supermarket operating divisions and other subsidiaries to counsel and guide state and local advocacy activities.

Perin previously served as deputy director of government relations for the Bayer Corp. Before joining Bayer, he was staff director for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Nutrition & Horticulture. He has also served as a congressional legislative assistant and political campaign manager. 

Marathon Petroleum Corp.

James (Jay) P. Heintschel II, vice president of business development, retired from Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) effective Jan. 1. Brian Partee, former crude oil logistics and analysis manager, replaced Heintschel as director of business development.
Heintschel joined Marathon's Treasury organization in 1978 and held various positions of increasing responsibility throughout his career. He served as manager of commercial services for the predecessor to MPC's Speedway retail subsidiary, as well as for MPC's pricing and allocation department and its special products marketing department.

Heintschel was named director of business development for MPC in 2009 and was appointed to his current position in 2015.

Partee began his career at Marathon in 1995 as an accountant, and has worked in several roles of increasing responsibility throughout the company, including positions in its pipeline subsidiary; several managerial assignments in the marketing and supply, distribution and planning organization; and commercial director and vice president, business development and franchise at Speedway.

MPC also appointed appointment of Dave Sauber to the position of vice president of human resources and labor relations, effective Feb. 1. Sauber comes to MPC after having retired from Shell Oil Co. as vice president of human resources policy, benefits and services for Shell's business in the United States.

He will report to Rod Nichols, MPC's senior vice president of human resources and administrative services. 


PDI appointed Drew Mize as vice president of PDI/Pinnacle operations. Mize will spearhead PDI's integration strategy following its recent acquisition of The Pinnacle Corp.'s enterprise resource planning assets.

Mize brings more than 20 years of industry-specific experience in strategy and development to his new role. He spent the last 11 years in various positions at Pinnacle, including vice president of retail solutions, vice president of product management and marketing, chief operating officer and, most recently, as president.

Mize will report to Bo Harvey, senior vice president and general manager of North America Operations for PDI.


Jamie Long has joined PFSbrands as vice president of business development. He brings 14 years of in-depth foodservice knowledge and strategic thinking to PFSbrands from McDonald's, Boston Market, Uno Pizzeria Grill and Orion Food Systems/Hot Stuff Foods. 

Q Drinks 

Q Drinks added new talent to the team with the appointment of Melanie Knitzer as executive vice president-retail sales. Knitzer's role will be to build the presence and availability of Q Drinks through retail and grocery stores. 

Knitzer's background includes more than 15 years building Honest Tea nationwide as vice president of sales, before moving to The Coca-Cola Co. with the acquisition of Honest Tea. At Coca-Cola, she oversaw Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) Natural Sales helping to grow beverages including Honest Tea, Zico Coconut Water, Odwalla, Simply and smartwater across the country. 

In addition to Knitzer, Becca Ray came on board as director of retail sales-West. She has worked with Knitzer for the past 10 years, first as a regional manager at Honest Tea and more recently in the same position at Coke VEB. Prior, Ray was the central regional sales manager for Frontier Natu Coop as well a team member for Whole Foods Market.

Reynolds American Inc.

Changes have come to the Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) board of directors. Thomas C. Wajnert retired from the board effective Dec. 31. He also retired as non-executive chairman, effective the same date. Susan Cameron succeeded him as executive chairman as of Jan. 1 — a position she will hold until May 1 when she is expected to become non-executive chairman. 

In another move, Lionel L. Nowell III, a member of the RAI board since 2007, was elected lead director, effective Jan. 1. Nowell is a retired senior vice president and treasurer of PepsiCo, and also serves on the boards of directors of American Electric Power Co. Inc. and Bank of America Corp. 

Wajnert has served as RAI's non-executive chairman since 2010 and on the board of RAI since 2004, including as lead director from 2008 to 2010. He also served on the board of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc. from 1999 to 2004. 

The Tobacco Media Group 

The Tobacco Media Group (TMG) recently hired Ben Stimpson and Antoine Reid to its management ream. Their hiring is part of a strategic initiative to grow TMG properties in the coming year, including Tobacco Business magazine and the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) tradeshow.

Stimpson comes on board as managing director of TMG. Under his direction, Tobacco Business magazine will be receiving a makeover, expanding its team and giving it a renewed focus on growing its digital reach. The magazine aims to strengthen its hold as a top industry resource, providing readers multiple ways to access news, insights, trends, interviews, and analyses. Additionally, Stimpson will oversee the transformation of the TPE show.

Reid has taken the role of director of digital design at TMG, playing an integral role in developing the assets and social media engagement for Tobacco Business magazine's online presence. 

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