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Sales Manager Spotlight

July 24, 2023
12 min. read

We have a number of long-time employees here at Martin’s (you can read several of their stories in this past blog post) who have been with the company for 15, 20, and even 30 years or longer. Three individuals who fit into this category are Martin’s Regional Sales Managers, each of whom started from the bottom and worked their way up the leadership ladder to their current positions.

With so much experience under their belts, and wisdom in their hearts, we found that these three gentlemen had much to share about their careers at Martin’s and their trajectory through various Sales positions. We took some time to interview each of them individually to learn about their favorite memories, reasons why they do what they do, and bits of advice for others looking to follow in their footsteps.

We hope you will find their stories as inspirational as we did. Browse through the questions and answers or watch their full interviews below to learn more.


Introducing: John Rodgers, Regional Sales Manager (Northern)

Bio: John started as an Independent Operator (I/O) in 1985 when a Wholesaler first came to New York City looking to distribute Martin’s products. He managed several routes in the NYC market before moving to Connecticut to operate routes there. In 1997, he sold his routes and was offered a position with Martin’s as a local Sales Manager for Connecticut. His territory expanded to include parts of Western Massachusetts and, later, Upstate New York. He later became the District Sales Manager for New England, before settling in his current role as Regional Sales Manager for the Northern region, in 2014. This territory includes New England, New York, New Jersey, Northwestern PA, and part of Delaware.

Q1: When did you start working at Martin’s?

I became an Independent Operator (I/O) in 1985, then sold my routes and was hired by Martin’s as a Sales Manager in 1997.

Q2: List your progression of different positions to the present day.

  • Independent Route Owner; New York City
  • Independent Route Owner; Connecticut
  • Sales Manager; Connecticut
  • Sales Manager; Connecticut, Western Massachusetts
  • Sales Manager; Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, Upstate New York (Albany)
  • District Manager; New England
  • Regional Sales Manager; North

Q3: What is your favorite memory at Martin’s?

The very first time I collaborated with another manager (Raul was my first direct report) to review several routes and suggest to owners to make changes and split their route, allowing room and time for growth. We successfully parted ways with an Independent Operator who was problematic and offered opportunity to two others. These Independent Operators took advantage of our offer and successfully grew their businesses while improving service. This was in 2006, shortly after we bought back the wholesaler rights in Connecticut. I’ve told this story before and affectionately refer to it as “The Carlton Story.” It was the first time I ever really got creative and made a noticeable impact on several fronts. This set the foundation for what I knew was to be my place at Martin’s. It was the first very fulfilling project I had worked on, and also the first time I worked with a direct report and was able to train, teach, and share my experience and insight. It kind of pulled together everything that I am known for now. I did not know it at the time, obviously, but I did like how it felt.

Q4: What part of your job do you enjoy most?

I love being able to offer opportunity to those who deserve it and are willing to do what it takes to leverage that opportunity into something bigger. I find joy in watching those situations develop, grow, and take on a life bigger than I had anticipated. It is almost like planting seeds on fertile soil, watering occasionally, then coming back years later to see a massive tree has grown. I love making a difference in people’s lives. I can do that here with the Potato Roll as the vehicle. It sounds strange, but it is my mission.

My favorite part of the job is not that I sell a wonderful product (which is high on the list) but it’s that I have the chance to bring opportunity to people and help them grow, and to help them expand their business and improve their quality of life. My favorite part of the job is matching opportunity to ability.

Q5: What is the most important thing you’ve learned while working at Martin’s?

In the early days, before we had such comprehensive communication, tracking, and analysis available, I was never really sure how to define success, so I would focus on the people. Knowing that a Distributor or Manager was doing all that could be done and giving it their best effort, I was happy with whatever the outcome was. Absent any litmus test or gauge, it was the only way I could evaluate what I was doing. I found that it was the best way, even today. I focus on the people, their perspective and sense of ownership and responsibility, and the effort they put forth, more than numbers and metrics. I always find when the people are strong, the numbers follow suit. So I would say my biggest lesson is to focus on the people.

Q6: What’s your favorite Martin’s product, and why?

Potato Sandwich Rolls

  • It’s our flagship item; it started everything.
  • It has weathered the test of time and remains consistent.
  • It is versatile and can be used for many dining applications, much more than just a hamburger roll.
  • Sandwich Rolls are our best item, most popular (worldwide), and pays everyone’s bills.


Watch John’s full interview here:


Introducing: Damion Davidson, Regional Sales Manager (Mid-Atlantic)

Bio: Damion has been working with Martin’s for over 15 years. He started as an Independent Operator in 2008 prior to coming on as the Sales Manager for the Massachusetts/Rhode Island/Connecticut region in 2011. From 2018 until 2023, he served as the District Sales Manager for the New England and Upstate New York region. Most recently, he has acted as the Regional Sales Manager for the Mid-Atlantic region, where he oversees 27 warehouse locations across multiple states and works with a team of 10 Sales Managers. His territory includes Washington, DC; Delaware; most of Pennsylvania; Maryland; Virginia; parts of West Virginia; and most recently, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio.

Q1: When did you start working at Martin’s?


Q2: List your progression of different positions to the present day.

  • 2008-2010: Independent Operator
  • 2011-2018: Sales Manager; Massachusetts/Rhode Island/Connecticut
  • 2018-2023: District Sales Manager; New England/Upstate NY
  • 2023-Present: Regional Sales Manager; Mid Atlantic

Q3: What is your favorite memory at Martin’s?            

One great memory was how my team handled getting through the pandemic as it was a very difficult time that we all made look easy.

Q4: What part of your job do you enjoy most?

I enjoy the freedom to make decisions that benefit my team, the brand, and the Martin’s family. I also love that I get to play a part in bringing a fantastic product to the masses.

Q5: What makes Martin’s stand apart from other companies?

Martin’s stands apart from other companies because of our reaction time to the needs of our customers. In my opinion there is no other company that comes together like Martin’s to serve the customers’ needs no matter what.

No matter how difficult it gets, I always trust that we’re going to come together as a team—North, Mid Atlantic, and South—and we’re going to figure out how to serve our customers properly so that our third party customers can continue to have that cherished eating experience that they expect at their homes.

Q6: Where do you hope to see Martin’s go next (geographically)?

I would like to see us break into the West Coast with fresh DSD (direct store delivery) one day.

Q7: Give us your best 30-second elevator pitch.

Are you looking to sell more and increase your business all while bringing in return customers for additional growth in revenue? If the answer is yes, then why not consider using our roll and bread products? They will give your customers a product to keep coming back for on a consistent basis, all while creating that cherished eating experience in your restaurant, allowing you to see an impressive return on investment. If that sounds good to you, then let’s get you started with your first order! We know rolls and bread and we partner with only the best.

Q8: Which account are you most proud you converted to using Martin’s?

Not Your Average Joes has 26 locations in New England and parts of VA and PA that I was able to convert in 2017 after they had inquired but thought our price was a bit too high and thought sticking with frozen would be easier. I was able to convert them by letting them try all of our items fresh and they liked the fact that they could “plus” product the day before, if needed, which gave them more control over inventory rather than going through Sysco.

Q9: What is the most important thing you’ve learned while working at Martin’s?

I’ve learned to have patience and to listen to all before speaking so I can gather all of the proper info before adding my thoughts on any situation. It has taken me years of practice to increase these two attributes, and they have recently helped in my career.

This also gives others the chance to speak to what they need, including our customers. And it allows me to understand their needs better. I like to be proactive rather than reactive.

Q10: What is your favorite restaurant that uses Martin’s?

Terry Black’s in Dallas. When I was assisting with opening that market last year, I was privileged to get to try their pulled pork on our roll and it was unreal!

Q11: What’s your favorite Martin’s product, and why?

My favorite Martin’s product is Potato Bread, by far. This is mainly because there is nothing like a peanut butter & jelly or grilled cheese on the softest, most tasty bread on the planet when you want a quick bite to eat.


Watch Damion’s full interview here:


Introducing: Raul Ramirez, Regional Sales Manager (Southeast)

Bio: Raul started working with Martin’s as an Independent Operator in the late fall or early winter of 1991, working under John Rodgers. In 2006, when Martin’s obtained Wholesaler rights in Connecticut, he was asked to come on as the Warehouse Sales Manager for Connecticut. In 2008, his region was expanded to include Western Massachusetts and the Capital Region of New York (the Catskill region in Upstate NY). In 2014, when John Rodgers became Regional Sales Manager, Raul was promoted to District Sales Manager of New England. Now, since 2018, he has been serving as Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast, a region which includes Florida, North and South Carolina, Georgia, New Orleans, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Q1: When did you start working at Martin’s?

  • 1991: Independent Operator
  • 2006: Martin’s Sales Manager

Q2: List your progression of different positions to the present day.

  • 1991: started delivering Martin’s, working for John Rodgers
  • 1992: purchased route I was running
  • 2006: became CT Warehouse Sales Manager (2 warehouses in CT)
  • 2008: expanded my area to included Western Mass and the Capital Region of NY
  • 2014: District Sales Manager; New England
  • 2018: Regional Sales Manager; Southeast

Q3: What is your favorite memory at Martin’s?

One of my most cherished memories (early on in my career) was at our State of Affairs. Mr. Martin came up to me and said ‘let’s go out into the market.’ It was great to spend 2-3 hours with him, going into and out of stores. We talked about a lot of things including sales, Mr. Martin’s hobbies, and stories. It is one of my fondest memories.

Q4: What part of your job do you enjoy most?

I love helping others succeed!

When I originally went into management at Martin’s, I was looking to have an impact. I had a lot of experience at the time. I did manage a couple of routes, and I had an employee at the time, so I thought going into management I could have a greater impact. I wanted to do what I could to grow sales and grow market share. I was hoping to be instrumental in talking to our customers and trying to get more shelf space.

When I was delivering, early on, we had very limited shelf space in a lot of the New England locations. I saw what we could do, so I thought, not only could I help the distributors by my experience, but I could also be instrumental in trying to grow market share and obtain more space for our strategic customers. That’s what I set out to do.

This helped me to practice patience over the years, but I remained committed. I’m never going to stop trying to have an impact. Whether at the independent distributor level or chain accounts, I want to see Martin’s succeed. I just want to do the best I can and help grow sales. That’s something I remain committed to.

Q5: What makes Martin’s stand apart from other companies?

Our Culture commitments.

Q6: Where do you hope to see Martin’s go next (geographically)?

Huntsville, AL

Q7: Which account are you most proud you converted to using Martin’s?

When I first took over as Sales Manager for the Southeast, one of my goals was to pick up Costco Southeast. I obtained contact information for the buyer, reached out, and after a few tries, I got an email back. And the rest is history—we’ve been doing very well in that account ever since. It was definitely a team effort, but I’m very pleased to have had an instrumental part in picking up that account.

Q8: What is the most important thing you’ve learned while working at Martin’s?

How crucial every department is to our success.

Q9: What is your favorite restaurant that uses Martin’s?

Wham Burger – Flagler Beach, FL

Q10: What’s your favorite Martin’s product, and why?

Potato Bread made such a huge difference for me. When it first came into the market that was a game-changer for me.

But as far as my favorite roll, Sandwich Rolls have grown so much into new markets. I love the thickness of it, the taste, and I love the versatility that it offers. All around, I think Sandwich Rolls has to be number one, with Potato Bread as a close second.


Watch Raul’s full interview here:


Interested in pursuing your own career with Martin’s? Check out our Careers Page to learn more or to apply for an open position!

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