2022 Star Women in Grocery winner Brigitte Brandt-Welzel (Q&A)
Senior Level Star
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
I started working at an early age in our family business. When my father passed away in 1977, I was there to help my mother, Ida Brandt, after school. We had three retail deli stores in malls and a budding manufacturing and wholesale business. Together, with the help of our great management teams and staff, we have grown our business into what it is today.
What do you think is your best quality?
In this industry, we are faced with many opportunities and challenges. Persistence, determination, and an optimistic attitude towards any situation overcomes all. My late uncle Otto taught me “we have no problems only opportunities.”
What is your leadership style or philosophy?
I lead by example, and it trickles down through the rest of the company. Get up every day with the right attitude, work hard and celebrate our everyday victories, small or large. This makes it easier for us to hold ourselves to a high standard, and it is displayed in the products that we make. Do not be afraid of change, and never stop learning.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?
One recent challenge that everyone seems to be facing is supply chain issues. Never has it been more apparent how we rely on partners all over the world to produce our products. Sourcing ingredients, casings, packaging and protein from all over the world has been extremely difficult the past few years. Managing these supply chain issues and resolving them quickly to be able to keep producing our products and supplying our customers without disruptions has never been more of a challenge.
What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest career achievements?
Next year we will celebrate our 65th anniversary. It is hard to imagine where we have come from to now. I was 16 years old when my father passed away, my mother, an immigrant to Canada, and I were left to manage a young business in what was at that time a male-dominated industry. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish, and excited to see where we will go. I am happy to now work alongside my children, Melissa and Richard, our third generation, and continue to grow this family tradition.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
My husband, Richard, and I have five grandchildren that we enjoy spending time with. It is exciting to watch them develop and grow and be involved in their lives. It’s also great being able to hand them back and enjoy a quiet night to ourselves.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We would not be where we are today without the help of our great staff and management team. The last few years have been tough on everyone, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work, determination and loyalty. I’ve been blessed to work alongside some of the best people in the industry for my entire career.
Click here for the full list of 2022 Star Women in Grocery award winners.