2018 Speakers

Tim Anderson

Chief Engineer, Display Cases and Micro-Distributed Systems, Hussmann Corporation

Tim Anderson is currently Chief Engineer, Display Cases and Micro-Distributed Systems for Hussmann Corporation.  He has over a decade of experience designing, developing, and testing refrigerated display cases operating with both synthetic and natural refrigerants.  He currently is responsible for developing and commercializing new product platform designs and serving as a technical representative to end users of Hussmann-made equipment.

Tim is a member of AHRI’s Commercial Refrigeration Engineering Committee, serving as the chair of the Standard 1200 Working Group.  He is the chair of ASHRAE Technical Committee 10.7 for Commercial Food and Beverage Cooling, Display, and Storage.  He is also a member of IEC SC61C Working Group 4, which is evaluating the charge limits for flammable refrigerants in IEC Standard 60335-2-89, the international safety standard for commercial refrigerators.  Tim received a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Nebraska Wesleyan University as well as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from the Jack Welch Management Institute. 


Cara Bastoni

Director of Engineering, Target Corporation

Mark Baum

Chief Collaboration Officer & Senior Vice President, Industry Relations, Food Marketing Institute

Mark Baum currently serves as Senior Vice President of Industry Relations and Chief Collaboration Officer for the Food Marketing Institute. In this role, Baum engages retailer, manufacturer, supplier, and service provider CEOs to further trading partner collaboration, leading to operational improvements and growth opportunities across all segments of the food retail supply chain. Prior to joining FMI, Baum was a Managing Partner of MARCAT Group, LLC a consulting/advisory firm specializing in business, market, channel, and customer development. Baum is known for his intricate knowledge of every aspect of the food, beverage and related businesses, and is recognized among the foremost experts in the design, management, and execution of strategy, sales, marketing, and merchandising activities throughout the industry.

Ethan Bellavance

Senior Energy Consultant, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation

Ethan Bellavance is a VEIC Energy Consultant with national commercial customers as well as customers of the energy efficiency program, Efficiency Vermont. He designs high-performance energy efficiency solutions that support customer business models and strategies, and supports the implementation of these strategies with technical and financial analyses. He has a specialty in managing retro-commissioning projects for larger commercial facilities, particularly with refrigeration system design. He has been the design analyst for lighting, HVAC, thermal shell, and refrigeration projects at Efficiency Vermont.

Ethan has 8 years of experience in energy analyses and audits for refrigeration, commercial, and agricultural operations. He holds a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Ecological Design from the University of Vermont.

Rohit Bhargava

Founder and Trend Curator, Non Obvious Company

Rohit Bhargava a leading authority on marketing, trends and innovation. He is the Founder of the Non-Obvious Company and previously spent over 15 years leading advising large organizations on digital and marketing at two respected global agencies: Leo Burnett and Ogilvy. Rohit is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original keynote speakers on marketing disruption and innovation in the world. He is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of five books on topics as wide ranging as the future of business, building a human brand with personality, and why leaders always eat left-handed. He has been invited to deliver sold-out keynotes and workshops to change the way teams and leaders think at the World Bank, NASA, Intel, LinkedIn, MetLife, Under Armour, Univision, Disney and hundreds of other well-known organizations.

Frank Blake

Director of Facilities Maintenance and Energy, Price Chopper/Market 32

Frank Blake is Director of Facilities Maintenance and Energy for Price Chopper/Market 32, a regional supermarket chain with 135 stores in the Northeastern US. He is responsible for oversight of facility maintenance, maintenance budgets, electrical and refrigeration support for design, maintenance CAP projects and EMS controls. He offers continuous support of operations through refrigeration, general maintenance and all store efficiency upgrades.

Frank joined Price Chopper/Market 32 in 2008 as an Electrical Specialist, responsible for electrical systems and controls, design assistance, lighting, generators, managed facilities, CAP projects, implementation of energy-efficiency opportunities, utility budgets and incentive programs. He assumed his new role in October 2017 and was officially promoted to the position of Director of Facilities and Energy in May 2018.

Thom Blischok

Chairman and CEO at The Dialogic Group, LLC

Thom Blischok is Chairman and CEO of The Dialogic Group. LLC, a growth and results-driven professional services firm serving both the Retail and CPG industries. His record of achievements include advising major retailers on growth and market re-positioning strategies in the Drug, Apparel, Convenience Store, Grocery, Dollar, e-Commerce, Mass, Specialty, and Club retail sectors with special emphasis on improving merchandising, marketing, supply chain, and technology capabilities.

Josh Broehl

Senior Vice President, Big Red Rooster, a JLL Company

As Senior Vice President and Account Director for Big Red Rooster, and with nearly two decades of design industry expertise, Josh Broehl utilizes his industrial engineering background to manage meticulous projects with utmost precision.  Josh’s ability to translate client strategies into consumer-focused objectives brings a level of purposeful intent to the placement of every fixture, design element, and communication graphic. He is adept at guiding multidisciplinary teams to drive business solutions and bring brand experiences to life.

Josh has a legacy of leading powerful teams through complex assignments, including projects for Chick-fil-A, adidas, ALDI, Anheuser-Busch, Foot Locker, Champs, White Castle, Enterprise Holdings, Tvoy Dom, and Giant Eagle.

J.R. Cochran

Dover Food Retail

J.R. Cochran’s career started out in the construction field, where he worked for a large drywall contractor in Atlanta as an estimator/project manager.  After Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, he was transferred to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, to rebuild a shopping center.  The initial plan was to be on St. Croix for 4 months, but the organization picked up additional work on St. Croix and other islands, so he stayed for 12 years.  In 2003, J.R. started working with BIG Services, an installation contractor for Anthony International. They complete their first close-the-case project in 2007.   With Anthony’s acquisition of BIG Services in March 2012, and with the Dover acquisition in late 2012, J.R. is now in his 16th year with the organization and the industry.

Jason Flanigan

Senior Mechanical Engineer, Meijer, Inc.

Jason Flanigan is Senior Mechanical Engineer for Meijer, Inc. Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based retailer that operates more than 240 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. Jason is responsible for improving store performance and reducing energy consumption across the Meijer fleet. He has been with Meijer for over two years after working in food manufacturing for nine years. Jason has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois – Springfield.

Dan Gavin

Vice President, Real Estate, Design and Development, ALDI Inc.

Dan Gavin currently serves as Vice President, Real Estate, Design and Development for ALDI Inc., a new role created in 2016. He oversees the design and building of all new and remodeled US stores, along with the expansion and construction of all distribution centers across the country. 

A 30-plus year veteran of ALDI, Dan joined ALDI in 1987 as a district manager trainee. He has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility, including director of operations in the Greenwood, IN division and vice president of the Springfield, OH division, where he led the growth of ALDI from the southern half of Ohio to North and South Carolina, opening more than 70 stores.  Dan earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and business management from Cornell University.

Andrew Goldberg

Category Manager, Energy & Utilities, RBS Ahold Delhaize

Andrew Goldberg is the Category Manager of Energy & Utilities at Retail Business Services - Ahold Delhaize (supporting Hannaford, Food Lion, Giant Martin’s, Stop & Shop and Giant Food) and has experience and passion in electrical and fuel efficiency projects.  Andrew received his Bachelor's degree from Babson College in Business Administration in 2002.  He began with Hannaford as a Retail Management Trainee and quickly became a Store Manager, serving in multiple locations.  In his current role he manages energy and utility sourcing and power procurement at over 2000 Ahold Delhaize locations.  In his community he is an active member of the Energy and Sustainability Committee, as well as an Economic Development Commissioner for the City of Saco.

Dean Groff

Marketing Manager, Danfoss Refrigeration

Dean Groff, Marketing Manager for Danfoss Refrigeration, has over 30 years of experience in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry in a variety of functions, including Materials Management, Global Product Management and Program Management.  He currently serves on the Technical Committee for the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufactures (NAFEM) and is Deputy Chair of the Commercial Refrigeration section of the Air Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). Over the past ten years, Dean has represented the industry at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. He holds bachelors’ degrees in Business Administration and Economics.

Tom Henken

Vice President + Director of Design, api(+)

Tom Henken is Vice President + Director of Design for api(+), an award-winning retail design firm. With more than 30 years of experience, Tom uses his keen understanding of today’s consumer, parlayed with creativity and deep understanding of retail operations, to lead the api(+) design studios. He is a master of balance between emerging trends and proven, efficient retail applications.

Tom’s experience includes branding, designing, and managing a wide spectrum of retail, corporate, and hospitality projects for fortune 500 clients worldwide.  As Director of Design, he leads all projects and, along with api(+)'s president, is involved with the firm's business matters and overall direction.  His portfolio includes early-stage concept development, branding, and environment design for nationally prominent retail clients including Publix, H.E.B., Walmart, Hannaford, Darden, Dairy Farm International and The Kroger Company.  Tom earned his Bachelor of Science degree in industrial design from the University of Cincinnati. 


Dustin Herner

Energy Manager, Weis Markets, Inc.

Dustin Herner is Energy Manager for Weis Markets Inc., a regional supermarket company with 206 stores in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.  He oversees the procurement, installment, and optimization of building controls, efficiency projects, and establishes best practices for associates to follow. He is also responsible for securing available utility incentives and the company’s participation in various programs. A 2011 graduate of Penn State University, Dustin has a B.S. in Energy Business & Finance.

John Joyal

Senior Director of Technical Services, Groom Energy

John Joyal is a career refrigeration and HVAC services entrepreneur.  Having started as a young-aged apprentice in his family’s own refrigeration business, John learned early the key aspects of HVAC/R service and installation, including the importance of balancing system design with metered support to maintain the most stable and energy-efficient operation.  Later, John gained broader trade experience while working for a regional supermarket service organization, eventually leaving to start his own refrigeration and controls business, which he grew for over a decade.  In 2016 John joined forces with Groom Energy to apply his approach on a national basis.

At Groom Energy John oversees the Technical Services division, managing both the electrical and refrigeration field teams, in addition to leading the technical development of energy efficient HVAC/R programs for Groom Energy’s customers. 

Tim Kane

Retail Solutions Industry Consultant, Zebra Technologies

Tim Kane is Retail Solutions Industry Consultant with Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Zebra Technologies, a global leader in products and services that extends real-time visibility into organizations’ assets, people and transactions.  As a consultant for Zebra’s North America retail and hospitality organization, Tim identifies industry trends and develops strategies that embrace and leverage change, empowering customers to creatively utilize leading-edge technology and service solutions to enhance business-critical systems. Tim’s vision and experience help retailers address issues ranging from inventory visibility and accuracy, to migration to the latest technology and omnichannel delivery models. 

Tim started his career with IBM, where he worked with some of the largest retailers across North America.  He has held sales professional and sales management positions with several of the world’s leading technology companies including Fujitsu, Ingenico, Symbol and Toshiba.  He earned a BA in English from Bridgewater State College.

Andres Lacassie

Vice President, Core and Distributed Cases, Hussmann Corporation

Andres Lacassie is currently the Vice President for Core and Distributed Cases for Hussmann Corporation. In this role, he is responsible for the product strategy, growth and profitability, lifecycle management, and product development of these product lines. Andres has led the Product Management team for Hussmann, bringing the voice of the customer and market insights into the development of new products.

Andres has over 20 years of food retail and commercial refrigeration experience within product management, business development, sales and marketing. He is uniquely qualified, having worked for both OEM and component supplier companies.


Tom Land

GreenChill Partnership Program Manager, Stratospheric Protection Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Tom Land has worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for over 20 years. He has implemented and managed EPA regulatory programs to phase out chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. He also represents the U.S. at international treaty negotiations of the Montreal Protocol and helps guide the Multilateral Fund in approving cost-effective projects that assist developing countries to transition from ozone-depleting substances. Now, as manager of EPA's GreenChill Partnership Program, Tom is collaborating with the food retail industry to adopt practices and advanced refrigeration technologies to reduce refrigerant emissions and the amount of refrigerant in systems for cost-savings and environmental benefits.

Lisa Laughner

President & CEO, Go Electric Inc.

Lisa Laughner is Founder, President & CEO of Go Electric Inc., a green-tech startup developing energy service solutions that accelerate a renewable energy future. Lisa has 25+ years of experience in product development, project management and new technology commercialization. She was formerly Vice President of Rolls Royce Corporate Ventures. Go Electric is her ninth startup.

Brad Morris

Senior Manager, Engineering and Energy, Giant Eagle, Inc.

Brad Morris is Senior Manager of Engineering and Energy for Giant Eagle Inc., a regional supermarket chain based in Pittsburgh, PA, with stores in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  Brad is responsible for managing the Architectural and Engineering design teams, the operation and maintenance of the refrigeration and HVAC systems and the execution of energy efficiency projects.

Brad holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Grove City College and an M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a licensed Professional Engineer.

Tim Morrison

Studio Principal, Supermarket Design, Little

Tim is a registered architect and Partner at Little, an international architecture & design firm recognized for developing exceptional solutions across the retail, community, workplace, and healthcare industries. With more than 21 years of experience in design and construction, Tim currently leads a team of specialized architects and designers dedicated to supermarket and restaurant design. His core emphasis is on site evaluation, fixture planning, equipment selection, decor design and exterior treatments. He is highly skilled at minor and major remodels as well as phased remodels, which enable businesses to remain operable during renovations. Tim’s portfolio reflects partnerships with many industry-leading brands, such as Publix, Food Lion, The Fresh Market, Harris Teeter, and Lidl, among many others.

Robert Mullen

Global Specialty Product Leader, Hussmann

Robert Mullen is the Global Specialty Products Leader for Hussmann.  He has worked for Hussmann for over 30 years and has held various positions within the company, from design engineering, manufacturing, marketing, product management, and most recently, specialty products business leader. Robert has been working directly with retailers for over 30 years developing innovative merchandising solutions.  He looks forward to the changing retail environment and providing new solutions to retailers’ challenges.

Heather Nifong

Senior Associate, Supermarket Design, Little

Heather is a registered architect and Senior Associate at Little, an international architecture & design firm recognized for developing exceptional solutions across the retail, community, workplace, and healthcare industries. With a passion for design and improving the environments we experience every day, Heather currently manages projects for industry-leading clients within the supermarket sector. Most notably, she has led and advanced the Publix Supermarket Program, where she’s been heavily involved in all phases of the project’s lifecycle; from scope development, fixture planning and CD production, to permitting and construction administration. Heather understands the importance of quality, coordinated engineering strategy, and teamwork. She’s driven to exceed expectations and provide clients with the competitive advantage of innovative ideas.

Kelly Noel

Senior Director of Engineering, Target Corporation

Kelly Noel, Senior Director Engineering at Target, leads a team of engineers that provide design, installation and service for Target stores. Although Kelly recently joined the Target team, she has over 15 years of experience in the design of retail grocery spaces and has a passion for driving smart solutions.  Kelly earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering from The University of Kansas.

Dan O'Brien

Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Zero Zone, Inc.

Dan O’Brien is Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Zero Zone, Inc.  He has worked for Zero Zone for almost 25 years and has held various positions within the company, from engineering to operations and, most recently, sales management. Dan uses his knowledge to help customers find unique solutions for their refrigeration and merchandising solutions while balancing their overall operational costs. In addition, Dan’s 25 years in the industry supports his expertise in responsive and innovative ideas for the retail industry.

Dan has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Jeff Ollis

Sales Engineer, SESCO

Jeff Ollis is a SESCO Sales Engineer who works with retailers to develop comfortable and energy efficient supermarket environments. Through 20 years of facility design experience across a wide range of systems, Jeff has learned that the best supermarket designs need less horsepower and less complexity than they’re using now. Jeff is a licensed Professional Engineer, a Certified Energy Manager, a certified LEED Accredited Professional and holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University.

Andre Patenaude

Director Food Retail, Growth Strategy, Marketing/ Business Development, Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions

Andre Patenaude, Director Food Retail, Growth Strategy, Marketing /Business Development at Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions, is responsible for developing a North American strategy around the company’s food retail growth, industry stewardship, marketing initiatives, and channel training for supermarket refrigeration.

Most recently, Andre led Emerson’s global CO2 strategy and prior to that leading the Canadian marketing & business development team, responsible for planning and implementation of programs for its refrigeration and air conditioning business. In total, he possesses 34 years of marketing, sales, and technical service experience working directly with end users, contractors, wholesalers, and OEMs.

Rajan Rajendran

Vice President, System Innovation Center and Sustainability, Emerson Climate Technologies

Rajan Rajendran is Vice President, System Innovation Center and Sustainability at Emerson Climate Technologies. In this role, he oversees the operation of Emerson’s Helix Innovation Center, located in Dayton, Ohio.  The Helix is Emerson’s new business opportunities development and incubation center focused on solving customer problems by taking an ecosystem approach.

Rajendran serves on HVAC/R industry committees, such as the AHRI, the Alliance For Responsible Atmospheric Policy, NAFEM and ASHRAE. In addition, he is vice chair of the Systems Steering Committee at AHRI, co-chair of the Global Food Cold Chain Council (GFCCC) and represents the United States on UNEP’s Refrigerant Technical Options Committee (RTOC) as the lead author for Refrigeration and member of the Air Conditioning chapters.  Rajendran has a B.S. from the University of Madras, India, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University. He also has a master’s degree in business administration from Wright State University. 

Mike Rayburn

Keynote Speaker, Comedian, World-Class Guitarist, Author

As a Hall of Fame international keynote speaker, author, comedian, and world-class guitarist, Mike Rayburn is an inspirational thought leader and one of the most in-demand and un-conventional keynote artists in the world. Drawing from his success as an entrepreneur as well as a Carnegie Hall headliner, Mike is a master at increasing profitability and impact by inspiring people to become possibility thinkers and virtuoso performers…all by daring to ask the question, “What if…?”

Mike is a Certified Speaking Professional, Hall of Fame speaker, and two-time TEDx presenter.  He has performed more than 4,000 presentations and has been featured in USA Today, Newsweek, Billboard, American Entertainment, Gig, and Successful Meetings magazine.

Amrit Robbins

President, Axiom Exergy Inc.

Amrit Robbins, CEO and co-founder of Axiom Exergy, earned his B.S. in Atmosphere/Energy Engineering at Stanford University and is a Certified Energy Manager (Association of Energy Engineers). He has relevant domain experience in sales, project management, business development, and engineering.  After completing his degree, he worked at QBotix (which made robotic tracking systems for solar PV) as an assistant to the CEO, where he helped to build the business case, develop the marketing materials, and deliver the sales presentation that led to the company's first sale.

He spent three years at Clark Energy Group (CEG), where he co-led the sales, development, and engineering of a $100MM energy efficiency retrofit project for a national supermarket chain. The project included a broad set of energy and water upgrades in 74 supermarkets, but it could not effectively address the single-largest portion of the supermarkets’ energy bills: refrigeration. Amrit ultimately left CEG to solve this painful problem.

Amrit and Anthony Diamond cofounded Axiom Exergy in November of 2013 in order to bring this disruptive energy storage solution to market. He developed the company's product market-fit, helped build a world-class team, recruited a strong advisory board, co-led early technology development, helped develop a sales pipeline of over $10MM with multiple national supermarket chains and electrical utilities, and led Axiom Exergy through two successful rounds of fundraising.

Wayne Rosa

Director of Maintenance – Food Lion, LLC, Retail Business Services, LLC

Wayne is a 1989 graduate of North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis on power distribution and control.  He started his career in the supermarket industry in 1996 supporting and coordinating HVAC equipment selections, design and controls for both new and remodel stores. 

Wayne joined Delhaize America’s Energy and Maintenance Department in February of 2007, where he was primarily responsible for HVAC/Refrigeration design, installation and maintenance as well as energy efficiency projects for Food Lion.  He has supported Food Lion’s commitment to the environment through the Energy Star & GreenChill programs with the EPA.  Most recently Wayne was promoted to Director of Maintenance supporting Food Lion as part of Ahold/Delhaize Retail Business Services.    

Ben Rosenzweig

Vice President of Operations, CoolSys Energy Design (Energy Squared)

Ben Rosenzweig is the Vice President of Operations for CoolSys Energy Design. He has ten years of industry experience, and oversees the operations of a team of design and engineering professionals who support the engineering needs of customers in diverse markets nationwide. With a Master’s degree from Lehigh University, Ben is skilled in operations management, engineering design, energy analysis, and business development. He has a passion for client service and solving unique and complex problems. Ben is a Licensed Professional Engineer in many states, with specific expertise in mechanical and refrigeration systems.

Rafik Sarhadian

Mechanical Engineer, Technology Tech Centers, Southern California Edison

Rafik Sarhadian is a mechanical engineer at Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Technology Test Centers (TTC). He has extensive experience in energy efficiency research with emphasis on air conditioning and commercial refrigeration systems.  Rafik holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.  He is a Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer in California.  He is a member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

Gabe Schwartz

Vice President of Product Marketing and Sales Operations, Stem

Gabe Schwartz is Vice President of Product Marketing and Sales Operations at Stem, where he leads strategic positioning, go-to-market, and sales enablement activities that drive adoption of Stem’s solution by leading businesses, institutions, project developers, and utilities. Before joining Stem in 2014, he spent three years at EnerNOC managing marketing strategy and execution for demand response and energy intelligence software. Prior to EnerNOC, Gabe supported partnership development at electric vehicle innovator Better Place and spent 4 years implementing strategic and operational improvement initiatives as a management consultant for Bank of America. Gabe earned his MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and his B.S. in economics from the University of California, San Diego.

Ankit Sethi

Refrigerants R&D Lead, Honeywell

Ankit Sethi is R&D Leader in the Refrigerants group of Honeywell Research Laboratories in Buffalo, NY, and has been working for Honeywell since July 2011. He received his Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology at New Delhi, India, in 2009, and a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 2011. At Honeywell, Ankit leads all refrigerant R&D activities related to the development of low GWP refrigerants for air-conditioning and refrigeration applications.

Christina Spalding

US Commercial Refrigeration Leader, Chemours

Christina Spalding is US Commercial Refrigeration Leader for Chemours.  She earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Carolina and started her career with DuPont Fluorochemicals as a Process Engineer.  She has held several key roles in DuPont, now Chemours, ranging from Technical Support and Operations Management to Marketing & Sales.  Christina has over 20 years of experience in the HVACR industry supporting distributors, mechanical contractors and retailers.  In her current role, she is focused on working closely with retailers, OEMs and contractors on sustainable transitions to low GWP solutions.  Christina is based out of the Phoenix, AZ area.

Chris Taylor

Consultant, Strategy Retail Operations

With over 25 years in the food industry, Chris Taylor is an executive-level business strategist with proven talent for leveraging data and insights into strategies that increase P&L performance, sales volume, and customer satisfaction.  Chris began her career in the food industry with McLane Company, Inc. in account management, working with large national convenience store accounts.  After developing a unique program for principal growth using the newly developed category management approach in convenience store brokerage, Chris joined Whole Foods Market, Inc.  Her 17-year career with Whole Foods Market spanned roles leading regional Whole Body, private label manufacturing, distribution and regional purchasing.  Her last role at Whole Foods Market was developing and leading the Global Data Team, where she led business analytics strategy, operations and projects spanning competitive and category analytics, consumer insights, data control, merchandising, pricing and master data management.  Since leaving Whole Foods Market, Chris spent several years traveling internationally and leveraged her expertise to consult on a variety of data management and supermarket industry projects.  Most recently, she worked with Sprouts Farmers Market in developing the business intelligence program and with Kings Supermarkets and Balducci's Food Lovers Markets in leading marketing and merchandising.

Joe Trauger

Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations, Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI)

Joe Trauger is the Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). He directs AHRI’s federal, state, and global lobbying efforts, and is also a key part of AHRI’s efforts in the regulatory arena. He joined AHRI in December 2016. Joe was previously the Vice President of Government Relations at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). He has more than 10 years of experience on Capitol Hill, both as a staff member for a U.S. senator and several representatives and also in the House leadership as the senior policy adviser in the offices of the Majority Leader and Majority Whip. He also worked with the House Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and the Workforce Committees; and with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.



Mary Upham

Manager Design & Development, Wakefern Food Corp.

Mary Upham is Manager of Design and Development for Wakefern Food Corp. Wakefern is a 50-member co-op trading as ShopRite, PriceRite, Fresh Grocer and Dearborn Markets, The Wakefern co-op has more than 350 stores in the Northeast area, from New Hampshire to Buffalo, NY to Virginia. Mary's team is responsible for store layouts, lighting design, decor and the development of sites. Currently the department is actively looking at alternate formats and energy saving for Wakefern's stores.

Mary has been with Wakefern for 11 years. Prior to that she worked as a Refrigeration Engineer at A&P, RL Eggert and Hussmann. Mary has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Gary Watson

Vice President, Store Support, Lowes Foods, LLC

Gary Watson holds the position of Vice President of Business Support for Lowes Foods in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  He has 48 years in the supermarket business that includes 29 years with Hannaford Brothers in Scarborough, Maine and 19 years at Lowes Foods, LLC. He has held a variety of positions in the supermarket industry including store management, divisional store supervision, category manager, manager of shelf management, manager of retail merchandising, and director of logistics and trucking.

In his current role, he oversees the Facility Engineering department at Lowes Foods, which encompasses new store construction, equipment acquisition, remodels and general facility management. He also has responsibility for utilities, food safety, and other operational expense categories such as waste management, floor care and the uniform and linen programs.  He is a past member of the FMI Retail Store Development Committee and stays active in both local and FMI-related events and activities.

Stephen Webster

Senior Vice President Consumer Goods, r4 Technologies

Stephen Webster is a highly accomplished and inspirational business leader, skilled at delivering exceptional results in high growth and transitional businesses by making priorities, people and processes better.  He has experience in general management, artificial intelligence, business analytics, data solutions, digital and direct marketing, professional services, cloud based technology, e-commerce, new product development and business operations.

Tony Welter

Vice President, Director of Refrigeration, Henderson Engineers

Vice President and Director of Refrigeration, Tony Welter works with his team at Henderson Engineers to provide the best grocery solutions for clients across the country. His refrigeration expertise has helped shape supermarket trends for many top grocery retailers and convenience store brands — probably one right in your neighborhood. Working directly with owners, architects, and refrigeration manufacturers to develop new technologies and design improvements, Tony and his team also provide refrigerant conversion engineering and design development studies to help his clients save on costs. Backed by ongoing research and decades of experience, Tony is often sought after to speak at various grocery and refrigeration conferences across the country as a respected expert in his field.

Ali White

CEM, Energy Consultant, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation

Ali White is a VEIC Energy Consultant with a project management specialty for Efficiency Vermont's commercial and industrial customers. Through that energy efficiency program, she designs optimal energy efficiency solutions tailored to customers’ business models and strategies. She also conducts technical and financial analyses to confirm the value of these solutions. Ali specializes in refrigeration energy efficiency measures and system design for grocery stores, breweries, and agricultural operations.

In addition to her work with Efficiency Vermont, Ali contributes to national working groups to advance the adoption of natural refrigerant systems. She holds a B.S. in Engineering from the University of Vermont.