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Kisses, Krackels and Whatchamacallits

BY KATIE MONSEN '96

[PHOTO: Dean Pinto '86
and his family] Dean Pinto '86 and his family, LEFT TO RIGHT, Dean, Linnea, Carey '86 and Nicholas.

Candy Hugs and Kisses at your every whim. Chocolate to take home and pass out to your friends. Taste-testing secret recipes for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. What sounds like a trip through Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory is really Dean Pinto's sweetest job ever.

As the Portland district manager for Hershey Chocolate, Pinto '86 is in charge of a team that distributes the famous confections throughout Oregon and up to Longview, Wash. He works out of Portland, as well as the regional office in Seattle, to make sure more than 200 Hershey's products - such as Hershey's Kisses, Amazing Fruit Gummi Bears, Ronzoni pasta, Jujyfruits candy and Twizzlers licorice - are distributed in stores.

While much of Pinto's job involves management, such as coaching and training his team members, he also works directly with a few clients.

What Pinto thinks is especially sweet about the job is seeing a product succeed on the market after the work to get it there is done. "We sell promotions to our customers, and then pass those savings along to the consumers," he said. When you see king-size Reese's Peanut Butter Cups at two for $1, that's his office's work, he said.

He goes about promoting an item by setting up an appointment with a store's buyer or buying committee. Then Pinto or one of his team members brings samples of a product for the whole office to try, from the front office staff to the president. Next Pinto explains how the product will be marketed, what kind of consumer support it has, what TV ad campaigns will be run and what coupons will be used to bring the consumers into the stores. Pinto even discusses schematics, for example where the candy will be displayed in the store.

He may also use the results of a focus group of "identified chocolate consumers" (people who buy chocolate two to three times a week) to help show the marketability of the item.

Another part of Pinto's work is introducing new items to the stores. For instance, when the reduced-fat Sweet Escapes appeared, it was his duty to make sure retailers in the area would buy them. Be prepared for a new Reese's chocolate and peanut butter product to be released in January, he said.

He also helps with test marketing in his district. Amazin' Fruit gummy bears debuted here in the Northwest before becoming a national treat.

Pinto holds a degree in business and German. He planned on a career in international business, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany.

About six years ago, he stepped into marketing with Hershey Chocolate, first in Washington, then in California, and now in Oregon. While most of Pinto's classmates dreamed of becoming stock brokers or financial analysts, few considered working in marketing. "I never thought I'd be doing this," he said. "Nobody can pull me out now."

It was his classes at PLU, especially those in management, that prepared him well for his work, said Pinto. "PLU's a great foundation."

Pinto and his wife Carey (Staffestad '86) met in finance class at PLU. Carey went on to become a CPA with Franklin Mutual Fund in Sacramento. "You can tell who did better in class," he said, laughing. Now Carey is a stay-at-home mom with their two children, 15-month-old Nicholas and 4-year-old Linnea. Pinto also serves as an alumni ambassador in Portland.

After six years, Pinto still loves chocolate. "It's great to have a nice, fresh Hershey's Bar," he said.

Check out Hershey's website, including an on-line cookbook, at http://www.hersheys.com.

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Source: Pacific Lutheran Scene, Winter 1996
Edited by: Janet Prichard, Senior Editor (prichajd@plu.edu)
Maintained by: Webmaster (webmaster@plu.edu).
Last Update: 12/18/96