Shae Hong Sensio Inc. President

Player’s Credentials: Shae Hong has established Sensio as one of the leading private label small appliance resources for major retail programs such as JC Penney’s Cooks brand, among others. Building upon a business model that offers retailers enormous flexibility to custom build differentiated programs, Sensio, under Hong’s guidance, has simultaneously worked to build the company’s branded business through a combination of licensed and internally developed brands. Through licensing agreements with brands such as Bionaire and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, Hong has extended Sensio’s retail penetration, enabling the company to achieve strategic level partnerships with a steadily growing array of major retailers.

What To Watch: Tapping two of the hottest trends in retail— celebrity chefs and single-serve coffee— Hong has led Sensio’s charge with two major deals over the past 12 months. Partnering with coffee roaster and specialty coffee house Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL), Sensio this fall will enter the single-serve business with placement in 4,500 doors. The launch of its new CBTL-branded single-serve machine, capable of producing coffee, espresso and a range of other hot beverages is being supported with what Hong describes as the largest marketing effort in the company’s history, combining extensive POP, demonstration programs, in-store videos and a major promotional campaign. Hong was also a key driver, partnering with Kmart, to launch an exclusive Gordon Ramsay Everyday kitchenware program in the retailer. The major new program, which is expected to have dedicated fixturing in a shop-within-a-shop merchandise presentation, will be supported by national television advertising coupled with widespread exposure in the retailer’s flyers. Hong is also turning up the heat on the company’s own Bella brand, which this year has seen some of its largest product development and branding initiatives, a prelude of more to come in 2012.

Perspective: Sensio’s strategy is based on four pillars: investment in single serve, expansion and extension of the Bella brand, growth of private-label partnerships and development of the Gordon Ramsay partnership. “Our goal is to develop unique and strategic level partnerships with each of our customers that allows us to provide the most value to each customer and service their unique needs. There is not one formula that we are using or planning to use going forward. Instead, our goal is to always be learning how we can be a better asset to our customer,” said Hong.