A Conversation With Tom FloccoPresident and COO, Utz Quality Foods
Tom Flocco, 54, was recently named president and COO at Hanover-based Utz Quality Foods.
He has more than three decades of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry, including six years as president and CEO of Beam Suntory, a spirits company.
Flocco earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Boston University and an MBA from Harvard University.
He and his wife have two college-age sons and will reside in Baltimore County, Md., after relocating from Chicago.
Q: With more than 30 years of experience in the consumer package goods industry, what skills and perspective do you bring to your new role with Utz?
A: I started my career selling for Proctor and Gamble in grocery stores, and then moved on to be a sales manager. In a business that is as hands-on as the snack food industry that helps me with our sales team and customers. Since then, I’ve been around every form of retail from grocery to club to convenience store, both in an operating and a consulting capacity, so I’ve gotten to know a broad range of retailers and what’s important to them, which is also an important part of what we do. I’ve spent 30 years understanding what makes consumers tick, what they like, what they don’t like, understanding their needs even when they’re not all that clear.
What do you think makes York County such a hotbed of the snack foods industry?
A lot of it goes back to the immigrants that came over from Europe; they brought their skills with them. It could have been snack making, it could have been beer making. There are a lot of those family craft businesses that started in this area and have continued. I think as one family influences another, there’s good healthy competition that makes companies better and stronger.
This is the highest per capita snacking county in the country, and certainly Pennsylvania is the highest per capita snacking state in the country. There’s very strong local demand that I think helps keep the company sharp and keeps the product offering relevant, both traditional and innovative.
You are joining Utz with two other new executives. What will be the keys to a successful transition?
We were brought on to really enhance and add to the existing team’s capacity, to continue Utz’s almost 100-year tradition. This is now the fourth generation in ownership of the business. When Mark (Schreiber), Jay (Thompson) and I joined Dylan (Lissette), our roles are really to keep doing what they’re doing, just do more of it and do it faster. A big key to that success is assimilating with the existing team; we have a healthy balance of the existing team and the new team. We respect the culture that Utz has and what we’re trying to do is introduce new ideas, new approaches, new structure, but to be very respectful of the culture that’s there. This is an organization that has demonstrated a very unique ability to get stuff done and respond to challenges that are put to them, and this is no different.
What is your favorite snack food?
I’m a big pretzel guy. I like our sourdough hards, whether the nuggets or the full pretzels. Any way, shape or form, a little bit of mustard on them and I’m pretty happy. Even better when you get them right off the oven.