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updated: 1/11/2017 8:47 AM

‘Growing up, I never thought I would join my father’s career within a sales agency…and here I am’

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Q: Describe your company.

A: C.A. Fortune is a leading full-service consumer products sales and marketing agency, specializing in the natural, specialty/conventional and bakery/deli trade channels. The company, with more than 250 employees nationwide, is headquartered in Elk Grove Village with regional offices in New York City metro, Dallas, San Francisco and Denver.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: We do. Our organization has grown from just over 20 employees in mid-2013, to over 250 currently on staff. As we look to strategically target two further west coast acquisitions over the next 60-90 days, we'll be opening up offices in Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest.

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: It's a great question, and I'll answer it in two ways. First and foremost is my father, as he is the one who inspired me to build a business career -- and introduced me to the industry we're both in. I owe a lot to him.

In addition, I would say my business partners, as I've learned a lifetime from each of them over the past eight years in the business.

Q: What is one interesting fact about your company that most people may not know?

A: With regards to the grocery industry, the single slowest day in grocery sales across the nation is the day after Thanksgiving. Most families are enjoying leftovers.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: In a constantly changing industry with the continued consolidation of retailers, distributors and agencies, our primary focus and the internal challenge we put on each other everyday include: "How do we to continue to set ourselves apart as the premier sales and marketing agency in the country? What are our key points of difference we provide our client and customer partners, versus competition in the market?"

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: Across the consumer products landscape, the two areas that continue to shine and, in our opinion, will continue to do so into the foreseeable future, are the perimeter areas of a grocery retail outlet (bakery, deli, etc.) and health conscious, "better for you" products (non-GMO, organic, etc.) As a result, we've built our organization around servicing these growing "pillars" and decided to invest heavily behind each one.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?

A: Surround yourself by tremendous talent, identify one to two mentors you fully trust to bounce larger decisions off, and compete to win each and everyday!

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: "People, people, people" -- I learned very early from mentors of mine that our industry (similar to most) and specifically our business, is driven by the quality of the team we surround ourselves with. Our leading point of difference versus competition, is just that, our associates.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Family time! With a two year old and infant at home, I enjoy consuming myself with my wife and children. Beyond family; golf, ski and enjoy the many restaurants downtown Chicago offers.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: "Shoedog" by Phil Knight.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Besides my infant daughter, strategizing on how to maintain a visionary leadership approach to the business, yet never losing focus on the need to be at the top of our game at the present time.

Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?

A: As a former college baseball player (Valparaiso University), I always dreamed of playing professionally, however there were clearly other plans for me. If not baseball, I would say practicing law.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: I was a caddie at the golf course across the street from where I grew up.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: Wrigley Field

Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?

A: Growing up, I never thought I would join my father's career within a sales agency … and here I am.

Q: Two people to follow on Twitter.

A: Jimmy Fallon and Joe Maddon.

-- Kim Mikus