What drew you to a career in industrial design?
In looking at creative options, I wanted to do something 3-D that wasn’t architecture. I came across a book on [industrial designer] Raymond Loewy one day, and I was hooked. All of a sudden there was this discipline that touched people’s day-to-day objects and that’s what really appealed to me.
Describe your creative process. Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration really comes from open dialogue. Creativity lies in so many places, not just in design disciplines, and being the catalyst for that dialogue is where great ideas come from. Get people excited and having fun, and amazing things happen.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing retail today?
Digital is changing everything, and I don’t mean just online shopping. We have spent time at Hershey undergoing digital training, and it’s amazing the way digital technologies are coming together to help retailers identify, target, communicate and convert customers. This means that the role of physical retail in the larger consumer journey is changing, and we are just beginning to understand how to make this all work.
You’re speaking at IRDC this year. What do you hope attendees take away from your talk?
I hope people see how a brand like Hershey, which is one of this country’s strongest icons with a long cultural and industrial legacy, reinvents itself constantly to remain relevant.
Did you take any risks working on Hershey’s new Times Square flagship?
The store is larger, and we introduced food service. We sell amazing s’mores, hot chocolate, brownies and cookies.
You’ve worked with chocolate for much of your professional life. What have you learned about merchandising and design for that industry?
Chocolate has so much untapped potential. Think about coffee before Starbucks and apply that to chocolate. There is so much to be done to better explain, showcase and drive true appetite appeal than what the current marketplace allows.
What’s the best part of your job?
We are doing a lot of work at Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, Pa., including attractions, retail and food service. Hershey is a family-oriented place where people spend vacations and holidays, and I feel a sense of responsibility for that. The best part of my job is when those people come, and we have helped make their visit something they will remember.
OK, we have to ask: milk, dark or white chocolate?
Always milk, sometimes dark and never white.