Debra S. Robins
Class of 2016
Debra S. Robins was born April 20, 1961 in Cleveland, to Sheldon and Judy Sadugor, who taught Debbie and her siblings, Lori and David, to become responsible, community-minded adults and encouraged them to travel and embrace diversity in their lives.
Her earliest memory of being introduced to the industry was attending her first convention in the 1970s at the Fontainebleau in Miami, when her father worked for AAV Vending, of Cleveland. Then, in 1976, they all started working side-by-side to build Century Distributors Inc. from the garage and basement of the family home in Maryland.
After graduating from Simmons College in Boston with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Communications, Debbie went to work for Planters Lifesavers in 1983 as a sales representative in the Washington D.C. market. It was while there that she met her husband, attorney Steven Robins, who she married in 1986.
Debbie was later transferred to Baltimore where she was able to call on larger wholesalers and grow her knowledge of the business. Her direct supervisor was Candy Hall of Famer Larry Flagler, who had a great impact on her career and kept pushing her to be better.
In 1987, she joined the family business as a Sales Representative/Buyer and later moved into the role of Vice-President of Purchasing, winning the Professional Candy Buyer Buyer of the Year Award in 2006.
Today she is President of the 180-employee company based in Rockville, MD, and proudly looks back on her role in two business acquisitions, one working alongside her late father. However, she is also particularly proud of spearheading and executing the Woman’s Initiative event during the AWMA Summit in 2014 — the first in the history of the association.
In 2015, Debbie was awarded the Convenience Distributors Assoc.’s Distinguished Leadership Award, and she has also served on the Advisory Board for the AWMA for six years and on the NCA’s Advisory Board for five years.
Debbie and Steven have two children, Chad and Callie, and have traveled as a family to see the world, always conducting a humanitarian project along the way.
She and Steven are also main supporters of the Public Safety Leaders in Montgomery County. Another major accomplishment for Debbie was completing the AVON39 39-mile walk and raising awareness for Breast Cancer through her successful fundraising efforts.
Debbie says being the first woman distributor in the industry to be inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame has allowed her to continue to break barriers for women in what traditionally has been a very male-dominated business.
But, she laughs, as a youth, she truly wanted to be Julie McCoy on the Love Boat, being an event planner for a large corporation.