Steve Blair, 38, was headed for law school when he realized many of his classmates at the University of Missouri were doing the same. He gravitated toward his marketing classes anyway, so he switched gears to marketing and administration management. Before long, he’d landed an internship with Procter & Gamble, where he built in-store displays and called on grocery stores.
He graduated in 1993 and was hired by P&G in Kansas City. He climbed the corporate ladder and eventually landed in 1999 as category management account executive with P&G’s Wal-Mart team in the baby care category.
At the time, P&G wasn’t the retailer’s category adviser, the supplier designated to be non-biased and increase all sales —competitor’s sales included —in a given category. But 30 days into his first stint here, Blair managed to get P&G in the spot.
He continued to refine skills in sales training and recruiting, took an assignment at P&G’s headquarters in Cincinnati and returned to P&G’s Fayetteville office where he remained until March.
After much soul-searching, Blair decided to leave one of the largest suppliers for a relatively smaller company with a proven brand that was looking to experience dramatic growth. He’s now responsible for Ghirardelli’s directing sales at many national retailers.