For Robert Hill Jr., who has spent his life representing and promoting brand-name products, service reaps big rewards both professionally and personally.
Hill was named president and chief executive officer of Acosta Sales & Marketing, Jacksonville, Fla., in January 2009. He joined Acosta 16 years ago when his family’s brokerage firm that his grandfather founded in 1927 was acquired by Acosta. Since then, Hill has adopted his father’s work ethic and applied it to helping build Acosta into a leading national organization that supports manufacturers and retailers in their brand-building efforts.
Since Hill became Acosta’s top executive, he has overseen the acquisitions of five companies:
• Central Sales and Marketing (October 2009): a fresh food agency with expertise in meat, deli and seafood.
• True Demand Software (December 2009): a leading provider of store-level insights and analytics solutions for CPG companies.
• Dynamic Food Marketing (February 2010): a sales and marketing agency focused on fresh solutions for supermarkets and wholesale clubs.
• McWeeney & Associates (April 2010): a U.S. sales and marketing agency specializing in representing companies that manufacture health, beauty, general merchandise and private-label products to Walgreens and Midwest grocery channels.
• FrontLine Marketing (June 2010): a leading national in-store advertising network and shopper marketing company.
As Hill sets his sites on growing Acosta from a $1 billion to a $2 billion company, he said more acquisitions are yet to come. “We see acquisitions continuing to play across all business channels. For example, in 2008 Acosta entered the military channel and today we have more than 800 associates throughout the world serving this important channel,” he told SN. “Outside of grocery, we have entered nearly every class of trade.”
Hill is passionate about converting shoppers to loyal branded buyers at the point of purchase. “Shoppers are more conservative and are behaving differently than they have in the past. As a result, we must analyze how the shopper is making purchasing decisions to maximize results for our clients,” Hill said.
Steve Smith, chairman, president and CEO of K-VA-T Food Stores, Abingdon, Va., described Hill as “sharp as a tack, very bright, forward thinking and also one of nicest guys you’ll ever meet.”
Because of his qualities, Hill has been able to attract good people who believe in his philosophy of honesty, integrity and hard work, Smith said. “They have the finger on the pulse of our business.”
Dan Portnoy, chief merchandising and marketing officer at Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie, said Hill “has a keen insight into what makes the consumer tick. Additionally, he does a great job of leveraging the manufacturer community to bring us incremental programs.”
When Hill is not concentrating on how to enhance services for clients, he likes to spend time with his family and is active in his church community. “I find service and making a difference in the lives of others to be extremely rewarding,” he said.