Frank Maione: An appreciation

NEW YORK —An industry titan soon will exit the stage. But those who have known Frank Maione over his long career with Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Warner-Lambert fully expect to see him backstage in the years to come. And, truth be told, it’s inevitable that this seasoned, highly respected leader will continue in some capacity to counsel the vendors who follow in his wake and the retailers who relish his perspective.

Maione is retiring on Nov. 5 as chief customer officer at J&J—a position he created as head of the company’s U.S. sales operations—after a 34-year sales career that defined the modern era of consumer product marketing. His career tracked the evolution of the supplier-retailer relationship from the negotiating table and intuitive merchandising years to today’s data-driven, analytical approach to the store shelf.

“Frank is a leader that believes ‘if you treat people like you want to be treated, they will be there for you.’ This meant you get their respect and truly motivated, dedicated team players. Frank is a good listener that always tried to work out win-win solutions. He also has a unique ability to remember people’s birth dates and the names of their children and spouses—just really good remembering personal data points that are important to those he meets.”—Bob Goode, Johnson & Johnson

In the process, Maione has become one of the industry’s highest-profile sales executives—and a tireless advocate for retailer-supplier cooperation. “We are very fortunate to have had him engaged with NACDS throughout most of his career,” said Jim Whitman, SVP member programs and services for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

“When I think of Frank, he was one of those guys who was at every drug store function, and one of the pillars of the drug store industry as I was coming up through my career. If he wasn’t actually leading the charge, he was certainly in that small group that was always at the center of everything at [the National Association of Chain Drug Stores] or any drug store industry function—Frank, Peter Thompson, Vic Mazzacone, Harvey Alstodt.

Frank always had time to say ‘hi’ and chat about the business. But the unique attribute for Frank was that he always took a personal interest in people, asking after their families, for example. He was never the flashiest or most flamboyant, but a day-in-day-out solid citizen for the drug store industry.”—Bryan Shirtliff, Rite Aid

At NACDS, Maione has served on the Retail Advisory Board and the Associate Member Advisory Board, and also has co-chaired major NACDS meetings. “Because of the depth of his knowledge and experience, he…was able to learn from a generation of people before him, and take the best of their leadership and qualities and bring them into today,” Whitman said. “And he used that to further the interests of J&J, NACDS and the industry. Hopefully, he’ll be in the industry somehow as he moves into new roles, and hopefully NACDS will be a part of his endeavor.”

For his part, Maione admitted with a laugh, “From a planning perspective, I don’t even know where I want to go right now.” However, he told Drug Store News that he would attend upcoming NACDS events in late 2010 and 2011. “I’m retiring from J&J, but I’m not retiring from the industry,” he stressed. “I plan both to stay very connected to the industry, associations, retailers and all the friends that I have, and at some point in 2011, get into something that’s appropriate for the direction I want to go.”

“Frank is one of the true gentlemen in the industry. He is a very astute businessman and has the ability to make everyone feel [his or her] opinion is valued. Having worked with him for several years, I found him to be a great listener, a man of action and, most importantly, a man of his word. Whatever the next phase of his career brings, he will bring respect, admiration and excellence to his work.”—Chuck Fehlig, Blue Ocean

Beginning in 1976 as a sales rep at Warner-Lambert for such brands as Listerine, Maione forged a success story that culminated with his appointment as head of sales for both Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and J&J. Under his leadership, Pfizer was the top-ranked sales organization in both 2005 and 2006, and was named vendor of the year for one or more product categories by a slew of major accounts, including Target, Walmart, CVS, Duane Reade, McKesson and Cardinal Health. “That was positive reinforcement that we got it,” Maione said. “We made a difference by being a customer-centric-minded organization,…and our business rocked so much that we drew a lot of attention to ourselves.”

“Frank Maione is one of those rare individuals that is great at building business and personal relationships. Frank and I have worked together for years, and some of our most important meetings took place at the NACDS annual meeting. We would meet and discuss business-building ideas, but the most important discussion was always centered around the spouses’ luncheon.

Frank and I both knew that we could talk business anytime, but it was more important to make sure all of the spouses were taken care of at the meeting. Speaking for my wife, Linda, it was always a highlight of her meeting agenda. Thanks, Frank, for your leadership, friendship and, more importantly, [for] keeping all of our spouses happy!”—Dave Van Howe, Market Performance Group

Behind the success of his sales team, Maione added, were “great people who knew their business, knew the industry and got up every day to run hard at creating mutual wins for us, the manufacturer and the retailers we were in partnership with.”

“Frank has always been a friend of CVS, and we are going to miss him. My fondest memories with Frank date back to his Pfizer days, when business was less complex and we were able to do great things to drive mutual sales. We had great collaboration, great planning and great results under Frank’s leadership. We can thank Frank and his team for many big wins at CVS over the years. While this chapter may be ending, I can’t wait to see the next chapter and hope that CVS can be a part of anything that Frank does in the future!”—Mike Bloom, CVS Caremark

“I have had the great fortune of associating with Frank as a colleague, a friend, a member of his team and as a neighbor. In each case, I was the better for it. He is a man of incredible character and high integrity that consistently delivered positive impact on the business and people wherever he was.”—Ken DeBeane, SmartCare

In addition, Maione said, “We had objectives that were aligned with what the retailer needed. When you had a room full of people in sales, marketing, finance, operations and [research and development], and everyone understood what a customer-centric mindset was, the conversation was so easy, and the outcomes were phenomenal. And the breakthroughs we had in product innovations at Pfizer were second to none.”

The rise of the mega-retailers, Maione said, has changed the way buyers and sellers interact and negotiate terms, prices and support strategies. “There are some basic principles that have never changed, like having a product that somebody else wants or needs on the other end. But the manner in which we engage today, based on the big mega-retailers, requires sophistication and teams of people and representatives,” he asserted. “And yet, at the end of the day, the bottom line is still about communication, and understanding what your retailer needs and what their customer wants or needs out of them.”

“Frank Maione is widely recognized as a successful business executive. He has been an advocate and champion for the retail industry for many years. When you ask anybody who has worked with Frank, they will tell you Frank’s successes are a result of his courage to take risks and act. Now if you ask Frank the same question, he will tell you his successes have nothing to do with his accomplishments. He will say they have been a result of what he does for others. Frank’s close friends, family and business associates will agree. They have seen his passion to inspire others to dream more, do more and become more. Frank, my best wishes as you turn the page to the next chapter in your life. May your dreams be fulfilled.”—Jim Mastrian, formerly of Rite Aid

Maione said the most difficult—and rewarding—part of his career has been the period since 2006, when he joined J&J through its acquisition of Pfizer. He was tapped as J&J’s first chief customer officer, in charge of the company’s total sales effort, and was given a critical assignment: to lead the integration of sales and marketing for J&J’s vast portfolio of products and business units. “For me, the absolute toughest part of my entire 34 years—and probably the proudest—was the last four years,” Maione said. “Most people on the outside think that it was just integrating Pfizer Consumer Health and J&J. The truth is that [the] integration consisted of six different business units, five of which were J&J business units, and one of which was PCH.”

In what he described as “heavy lifting,” J&J merged the sales organizations of Neutrogena, McNeil Labs, Personal Products Co., Consumer Products Co., J&J Nutritionals and PCH. Not only was the human side of the merger tough—“meaning some people had jobs, and some didn’t, although it was a very fair, thought-out process,” Maione said—but his team also was charged with integrating six separate business cultures into a single, cohesive unit. “It took a long time,” he said. “But when you think of the progress that J&J’s consumer organization has made in its fourth year, it’s incredible. There’s still a ways to go relative to the broader J&J organization, meaning the marketing groups, finance, logistics, operations and R&D—all that still has to meld together.”

Leaving the industry after 34 years is bittersweet, Maione said. Having accomplished many career goals and forging friendships leaves Maione with “a good feeling,” he told Drug Store News. But it’s also “an emotional disconnect for me—a very conflicting point in my life,” he added. “I have so many great people I work with, so many wonderful friends and industry associates. I’ll have that when I leave, but I’m now going into a [new] world. I have to figure out what that looks like. That’s OK,” he added. “There’s a smiley face on the end.”

“Frank has been in the industry a long time, and is not only an outstanding executive within the CPG world, first with Pfizer and now with [Johnson & Johnson], he’s also an ambassador for the retail industry and a great friend to so many people. We’re all excited for him. He’s done so much for all the retailers within the industry that we really owe Frank a tremendous debt of gratitude. We’ll miss him, but I know we will see him around the industry again soon—I’m sure.

One of the funnier moments I’ve shared with Frank: Frank Maione has a very similar resemblance to the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley. Whenever Frank came to Chicago, there were a few times people would turn around and say, ‘Oh, Mr. Mayor, how can I help you?’ So I always referred to Frank as the mayor of retailing. What’s really interesting: Mayor Daley just announced several weeks ago that he’s retiring. It’s ironic that the mayor of Chicago and the mayor of retailing are retiring together, at the same time. But again, Frank is an outstanding person with great character and is a friend to myself as well as many, many people in the industry. I wish him all the best. He’s first class all the way.”—George Riedl, formerly of Walgreens

“My favorite Frank Maione anecdote is back in 1998 when MVI was a tiny struggling company with about 20 people. We came up with the bright idea of charging our clients one flat fee to send people to all of our retail seminars everywhere in the world. We had two clients who bit on this—one was Warner-Lambert, where Frank was at the time in a global sales role (prior to him taking over as U.S. head of sales there).

We came up with the most absurd number we could think of, $20,000, figuring the most any company would send was about 20 people and we’d do great. Frank lined up (no exaggeration) 550 Warner-Lambert employees to go to MVI sessions that year, for a cost of about $36 apiece. Our fee barely covered the hotel lunch! But I can’t complain too much—one of those 550 people is now my fiancee, Kim Sines, who works with Ron Schone over at Pfizer. And Frank today still complains we charge him too much! And no matter what city in the world you are in, Frank always knows some amazing, slightly out-of-the-way, great local restaurant. I remember one run in 1999 where I had dinner with him four times across three continents in seven weeks, all in Frank-approved spots!”—Bryan Gildenberg, Kantar

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