Business Plans

In this special edition “live” from C-Suite Network conference, we discuss the importance of including customer experience in business plans with Vicky Smitley, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Hearthside Food Solutions.

About our guest

Beginning in quality assurance 25 years ago, Vicky Smitley has built a career working for and with many of the world’s largest and finest food companies, mainly in business development roles. Today she serves as vice president of sales and marketing for the $1.3B Hearthside Food Solutions, the industry’s largest contract manufacturer. During that time, Vicky has witnessed tremendous change, innovation and consolidation. Factoid: Vicky never actually changed jobs. Rather, the company she worked for was bought and sold multiple times. Each time Vicky was retained as a leader or coleader of the business development function.

Vicky also is the current president of the Contract Packaging Association, an organization she joined in 2001 in an effort to expand her personal network and to help drive industry evolution. During her tenure as president of the CPA, Vicky has focused on expanding the mission of the organization, raising the profile of contract packaging and closing the talent gap by helping groom tomorrow’s leaders.

Vicky attributes her commercial success to always being an advocate for the customer. Understanding what the customer wants and needs, then finding creative ways for the organization to sell for those needs while generating a profit has proven a successful formula for Vicky and the sales organizations she has led.

About Hearthside Food Solutions

Hearthside Food Solutions, founded in 2009, is the industry’s largest contract manufacturer with 24 food production and food packaging facilities in the US and Europe. The company is the largest producer of snack, energy and protein bars, and one of the largest producers of cookies, crackers and other baked snacks. Headquartered in Downers Grove IL, more information can be found at

Connect with Vicky

Why is customer experience missing from business plans?

Many business leaders feel that if they have rock solid business plans, then a great customer experience will follow. But few think of asking their Business Plan Writers to create a culture around customer experience as part of their business plan.

Customers are calling the shots! If your growth engine is not focused on them, then the experience you deliver will not stand out among the competition.

At Hearthside Food Solutions, Vicky Smitley became a customer advocate not just to create an experience strategy, but to really bring customer experience to the center of the business plan. By improving the employee experience, they have developed special programs to bring customer-focused thinking from the C-Suite on out to all employees.

How can you make customer-centric culture part of your business plan, and incorporate it in your strategy? Listen to this special interview to learn how a Billion dollar company does it, and how smaller companies can do the same.

Listen To This Episode!

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