People on the Move: Mars, Kretek & Ryko

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People on the Move: Mars, Kretek & Ryko


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, CSNews Online runs down the most recent executive changes, new hires, promotions and people achievements happening in the industry.


Api(+) named Trish Nearhoof as project manager for its food retail group. Nearhoof, a registered architect, will manage multiple projects and supervise others to ensure proper communication and successful delivery of projects in terms of budget, schedule, quality and client satisfaction.

She brings 10 years of professional architectural experience in project management, design, construction documentation and rollout expertise. 

First Data Corp.

Gretchen H. Garrigues joined First Data as its chief marketing officer. In this role, she will lead the company’s global marketing efforts, including corporate and product marketing, branding, innovation and thought leadership.

Garrigues comes to First Data with a deep financial services background and leadership skills developed over a long career with GE Capital. Most recently, she served as senior managing director of global strategic marketing, responsible for strategic planning, new product development, market intelligence and customer insights.

Kretek International Inc.

Kretek International named Sean Geary as Western Region sales director.  He will report to Kretek Field Sales Vice President Russ Mancuso, and will be responsible for business development and retail growth of Kretek brands across all channels of distribution. 

The Western Region extends from Washington, Oregon and California eastward across Montana, Colorado and New Mexico, and also includes Nevada, Utah and Arizona. 

Geary most recently served as key account manager for Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. and brings several years of tobacco category experience.

Mars Inc.

Debra A. Sandler was named chief health and wellbeing officer for Mars, and Tracey Massey will step into the role Sandler previously held as acting president, Mars Chocolate North America.

Massey is stepping into her new role after 24 years at Mars. Most recently, she served as the chief financial officer for Mars Global Chocolate. As acting president, she will be responsible for the chocolate operations in the region.

Sandler's chief health and wellbeing officer role is a newly created position and is a reflection of the strategic priority that health and wellbeing represents for Mars, the company noted. Mars is focused on helping consumers make informed choices, improving the nutritional value of its portfolio, conducting scientific research into nutrition and working to promote active, healthy lifestyles.

Ryko Solutions Inc.

Ryko Solutions selected Sam Toubia to be the company’s senior director of professional services. In this key role, Toubia will be responsible for creating new recurring revenue opportunities for the organization by managing the company’s 250-plus member service technician force, developing and executing on maintenance and customer connectivity programs, and continuing to build on the customer service experience.

Toubia comes to Ryko with an extensive background in leading professional services and customer service business units, most recently as business operations leader with General Electric Healthcare since 2008. 

United Brands Co.

Philip W. O’Neil, who has earned a reputation for aggressively growing companies including Mike’s Hard Lemonade, is now part of the team at United Brands. His experience, leadership and prowess with distribution will allow United Brands to continue expanding the already successful growth of its JOOSE line of margaritas, cocktails and other products.