2022 Star Women in Grocery winner Lucy Antonacci (Q&A)
Senior Category Manager, Deli and Prepared Foods
How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
I have always loved working in the grocery industry. Coming from a traditional Italian household, I grew up with the love of deli meats and cheese; my dad was always curing something in our basement! It was a natural path to combine something that I loved and had passion for into a rewarding career.
Biggest challenge faced in your career?
I am lucky to have spent my years at Longo’s where they have always provided a nurturing environment and strongly believed in promoting from within. My early career was spent on the operational side of the business as a department manager and later as a specialist for the deli department. Later, when I was offered the deli category manager position, it was outside my comfort level. Dealing with financials and budgets combined with the reporting side of the bushiness was so new. I had great mentors and so much support from my peers at Longo’s. They gave me the encouragement to succeed and freedom to make decisions. The tasks that were once my biggest fear are now the ones I enjoy the most! I love reviewing our sales and financials (including promotional results) and sharing them with my team to motivate them and drive the business forward.
Career highlight/greatest achievement?
There have been so many highlights over my 27 years in the business, but one of the most recent ones that comes to mind is when I joined the prepared foods department in addition to the deli department during COVID. There were so many challenges specific to prepared foods, as this was one of the hardest hit departments in our store. I had to learn a new department and categories and familiarize myself with their processes and get to know a whole new department management team. I really enjoy sharing new ideas with the team, listening to the suggestions of our team members and continuing my learnings in the overall department.
My first love has always been deli and the excitement of launching a private-label product. It was always our dream to have an authentic Italian line of charcuterie and our line of sliced cheese. We had started these projects many years ago, but there were always roadblocks to volumes, supply and quality of offerings. We held out until we could find the highest quality meats and cheese to carry our name. It is satisfying after so many years to see these award-winning products finally on shelf!
Best advice received?
There has been so much throughout my years at Longo's, but one of the greatest aspects that still follows me to this day is to never be afraid to go outside of the box and do something different. It's easy to follow conventional products, ideas and operational elements in the store, it's another to build a signature department and try new things. Whether it be with promotions or leading the team towards different ways of doing things at store level, it will always set you apart from others in the industry and is one of the keys to building guest loyalty.
What do you like most about your job?
I believe the promotional element is the most exciting and rewarding part of my job, especially when it involves a private-label item or something unique to Longo’s. From the inception of an idea with our vendor partners to working with cross-functional teams to bring the promotion to life, it is very rewarding to be involved in the entire process from start to finish. When it finally comes to life, the excitement, execution and positive feedback from our guests always gives us the satisfaction that we’ve done the right thing.
What are your passions outside of work?
I love spending time with my family and when not doing that, I am a self-certified beach bum (help keep our oceans clean) and voracious reader; they are a perfect pairing.
Click herefor the full list of 2022 Star Women in Grocery award winners.