October 2nd, 2018
Sixteen years ago, Tom packed a suitcase and moved from the UK to the US with $5,000 in his pocket, a handful resumes and a whole lot of ambition. Working in various sales roles throughout the course of his career, it was serendipitous when FGF found him in 2014. We sat down with Tom to learn more about that ambition that took him from Brand Ambassador to Business Director – four promotions – in four years!
What’s your name, and what do you do with FGF?
I’m Tom Lale, the Director of Business Development for Stonefire West. I manage and grow relationships with key grocery deli and bakery buyers while identifying opportunities to build Stonefire brand sales within existing and new grocery distributor accounts in areas west of Texas.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Sheffield, England and went to the University of Nottingham for my studies. When I graduated, my now wife and I took a year off to backpack across the world. We visited many countries and fell in love with the US, so we packed our bags after our adventure and never looked back. With what little money we brought with us, we bought a Camper Conversion Van and drove across the coast delivering resumes – I still remember putting on my suit in the van and having to straighten my tie using its side mirror.
How did you start at FGF?
My first couple of jobs in the US were with large corporations in their sales departments. I managed my territories and sold product to independents, groceries and other vendors. After a while, I switched gears and worked at a start-up for almost a year when FGF called me out of the blue – the timing was perfect. I did my homework on FGF and knew I had to work there.
What has the journey been like since joining FGF?
It’s been an amazing whirlwind. When I started in 2014 as a Brand Ambassador, I was promoted within a year to Account Manager, Retail West. I managed a portfolio of West Coast grocery accounts before getting promoted in 2017 where I looked over my own portfolio and managed two account managers in the Midwest and East. And finally, earlier this year, I was promoted to Director of Business Development for Stonefire West.
Wow! How did these promotions come about?
At FGF, if you’re able to roll-up your sleeves, work hard, put your time in and not be afraid of making mistakes, then you’re able to grow and progress quickly. This is what we call home grown talent. It’s the best company I’ve ever worked for, 100%. FGF has a start-up mentality, and particularly in the food industry where it’s always changing, FGF really thrives on speed, change and uncertainty – we’re powered by creativity. Their ability to adapt to change, come up with solutions quickly and turn their heels is what sets them apart.
On that note, what do you think is so special about working at FGF?
Since I’ve started working at FGF, the growth in sales, manufacturing facilities, product innovation and launches have been unmatched. I’ve never seen anything like it. In my previous employment with the big corporations, they’re often focused more on maintaining their numbers, but at FGF, the growth is big. And it’s very easy to be proud of the work that is being done here. It’s like a second family – the company has an open door program that promotes communication with everyone at every level – it enables people to stay connected, engaged and passionate.
Any surprises working at FGF?
The owners of FGF live and breathe FGF’s values – they’re incredibly down-to-earth and aren’t afraid of putting in the effort to get the work done. Their drive is infectious, their passion inspires us, and it’s amazing how they understand every part of the FGF engine. As I mentioned before, FGF has a start-up-like culture, and that’s also reflective in the office space and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. From open concept spaces and innovation labs to world-class engineering – I have a lot of pride for the company I represent!
Any advice for anyone starting a job at FGF?
If you’re contemplating a job in sales – crikey – you have to be tough, resilient, and have a thick skin to keep charging on. Thankfully, FGF are true innovators and they thrive in an ever-changing environment. If you have a lot of drive and an entrepreneurial spirit, you’ll fit in perfectly at FGF. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or express new ideas; FGF really fosters that kind of mentality. The sky’s the limit here.