Long-time frozen category manager at Harris Teeter is recalled for friendship, professionalism and love of golf.
Mark Williams, long-time category manager of frozen foods at Harris Teeter and most recently the senior vp of sales analytics for Halo Brands, Charlotte, N.C., died on Oct. 25. He was 58. Known as a consummate professional with a great sense of humor and a love for golf, many in the industry described him as “like a brother.”
Damon DeCristoforo, CEO of Halo Brands, said one of Williams’ best qualities “was his ability to bring people together no matter where they were from… He truly cared about the business, the people he worked with, and the people he was serving — he always wanted to get it right.”
DeCristoforo said Williams’ knowledge of category management “was second to none… he loved tearing apart a new category and trying to find what made it tick. His enthusiasm made everyone want to do more.
Williams created the Power Shelf at Harris Teeter to “help the little guy compete,” according to DeCristoforo. He assisted many companies in growing their businesses, and was active in the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association.
A lifelong avid golfer, Williams started the Harris Teeter Golf League and started the annual Harris Teeter NFRA golf outing to thank the vendor community. He played many of the top 100 courses in the world, including in Mexico, Ireland and Scotland. One highlight was a hole in one at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, hole No. 4.
“Once, years ago, Mark’s ball landed only four feet from the pin on a par 5 hole,” recalled Johnny Harris, retired category manager of dairy at Harris Teeter. “He should have birdied, but he wound up with a ten. He was my partner, and I asked him what the heck was going on. He told me, ‘I’m gonna be a daddy again.’ He’d just found out. Mark was a great family man.”
Charles Brame, director of Our Brands at Harris Teeter, recalled Mark’s regular golf games with friends, and “the smile and laughter that he always had” bringing joy to many. Brame added that Mark loved the band U2, traveling to many concerts. “As the title of one U2 song states, “With or Without You,” we will miss you Mark but you will always be in our thoughts and memories forever,” he said.“I loved Mark’s attention to detail,” said Travis Hubbard, vp sales for Advantage Solutions. When we worked together at Harris Teeter, I would often tell him, “No need to build an aircraft carrier when a canoe will do.” He would always build the aircraft carrier. He put together a perfect trip to Chicago for us to see U2, visit a couple of clients, play a great day of golf and end up after the concert at an invite-only party. I will never forget his smile as we were leaving the next day knowing that everything went as planned.”
Jerry Clontz, now retired as president of Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division and the former senior vp of operations at Harris Teeter, worked with Williams at Harris Teeter. “His knowledge and experience was the key to our success in our business,” he said. “Mark never met a stranger, which was a big part of his business success. He loved golf, and his family was always at the top of his list. He will truly be missed.”
At press time, a large group of Williams’ friends were gathering to discuss ways to help the family and honor his memory. For information, contact DeCristoforo at email@example.com.