Class of 2022
Jeff Grossman has been selling candy since the fourth grade when he convinced a local candy salesman to let him be his “inside person” at the elementary school. While this experience didn’t last long, he says it’s what launched his entrepreneurial spirit.
Jeff was born March 22, 1963, in Chicago, to Fredric and Sandra. He thanks his parents for teaching him the value of determination and passion, and says that he grew up always believing he could do anything he wanted to.
Jeff attended Highland Park High School and after graduating in 1981, he went on to get a marketing degree from DePaul University. He later received his MBA from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in 2005.
Jeff met his wife Carol, the sister of his roommate and best friend Paul, in Chicago. They were married in Frankfort, MI, on May 24, 1993. Together they have three children: Andrew, Lauren and Jenna.
Jeff began his career in October 1992 as a sales analyst for Ragold Inc. working with Rainer Schindler. This was his first experience with retail CPG and he recalls that he was quickly hooked, citing the industry and the people. During his tenure, the company launched many brands including Juicefuls, Velamints sugar free extensions and Absolute Fruit.
Jeff spent six years with Ragold before joining Imaginings 3, Inc. as vice-president of sales and marketing, where he stayed for seven years before joining New Era Brands as president.
After three years there, he became director of sales at Ford Gum & Machine Co., Inc. where he spent six years. Jeff joined YummyEarth, Inc. in 2016 as director of sales and was promoted to his current role of vice-president of sales and brand development in 2018.
In total, he has spent more than 37 years in the industry and says that if you can’t have fun selling candy, there is something wrong.
Giving back, Jeff has served on the NCA Sweets & Snacks Expo Committee from 2018 and was on the NCA Trade Relations Committee from 1994 to 1998. While at Imaginings 3, he partnered with customers such as Tru Kids Inc. and 7-Eleven, Inc. to create proprietary items, which resulted in being named vendor of the year in 2002.
Despite facing day-to-day challenges such as the attack on sugar and problems within the global supply chain, Jeff believes his passion, integrity and respect have led to his success.
During his time at YummyEarth, Jeff has expanded distribution and channels within club, grocery, specialty, mass, drug, alternative, online, convenience and value. His current role has him all over the world looking for ways to develop “better for you” candy as well as working on packaging that will benefit the environment.
He recalls being advised years ago to always be involved in understanding the bigger factors impacting the industry.
Outside of the industry, Jeff says his proudest accomplishment has been being a godparent to a little girl named Simone. He has helped guide and take care of the soon-to-be 11-year-old since she was only six months old.
He is proud of what he has personally accomplished and feels that the trade respects his passion and desire to evolve the industry.