20th Annual Deli Changemakers Award Winner: Casey Keil

Own Brand Manager, Fresh
Giant Eagle
Grand Rapids, MI

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and how it has shaped you?

I grew up in suburban Detroit in a family as one of five boys. That certainly taught me a lot about competition, a strong work ethic, treating everyone with respect, as well as the partnership and loyalty needed for success.

Q. What were some of the pivotal moments in your early life that led you to where you are today?

Meeting my wife, and the birth of our children are definitely the two most impactful moments that have shaped me and where I am today. My wife and I spent nearly a decade together in Chicago, developing our careers and building relationships with lifelong friends. We had our first child in 2012 and decided to move closer to our family. This brought us to Grand Rapids, MI, where we have been for the past 12 years.

Q. How has your career evolved over the years?

I’m proud to say that I’ve been in or around the food industry since I was 16. Post-college, I took on a variety of roles at Kraft Foods. At Kraft, I became an expert at minor ingredients as the food additives sourcing manager. I parlayed that experience into the own brand sourcing manager for all things fresh at Meijer, spending a decade traveling the world and learning as much as I could about seafood, meat, dairy, etc. That experience also helped me gain an appreciation for the complexities of the food supply chain, including the sustainability and social responsibility challenges we face. Looking for a new challenge, I joined the Giant Eagle team in 2021 as own brand sourcing manager. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to own brand manager for fresh and have the opportunity to work with an amazing and passionate team.

Q. What is the best advice you ever received and why?

I was once told, the person you will someday become, you are now becoming. It’s important to learn your own style rather than being someone you are not. Doing this is not always easy, but I have had the opportunity to work with, and learn from, some amazing people over the years. This not only includes the people within the organizations I have worked for, but also learning from and building relationships with the supplier community.

Q. How do you balance your work and personal life?

Balancing personal life and work is not always easy to do in a remote environment, but those who know me can attest that we need to whistle while we work. Although the job can get stressful, we like to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously. Having a busy personal life with two young girls also helps force that separation. They definitely keep me grounded.

Q. What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last year?

The continuing focus on Own Brand growth across the retail sector has certainly had a positive impact. It continues to lead to product innovation, quality improvements and access to new suppliers. This has led to challenges on its own, however. Major suppliers are requiring higher minimums and there are fewer opportunities for customization, limited-time offers and seasonal plays. We continue to search for nimble suppliers who can efficiently partner with and collaborate with Giant Eagle.

Q. What book, movie, or event has impacted you personally or professionally?

This is bound to be cliché, but COVID has been the event that impacted me most, both personally and professionally. Like many others, in March 2020, I left the office I went into every day for years and have been working virtually since. It’s not without its challenges, but it allows me to now work with the great team at Giant Eagle.

Q. What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?

Does hanging out with my family count as a hobby? In all honesty, my free time is spent with them. This includes the normal commute to and from soccer practices, games and tournaments, as well as spending time with them out to eat, traveling or watching the newest episodes of “Bluey.”


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