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Elite guides,
native to innovation.

The time is now

Meet our Sherpas

Benno Duenkelsbuehler

Chief Sherpa & CEO

Benno Duenkelsbuehler

Chief Sherpa & CEO

Some people say I have a real knack for building and expanding consumer businesses, but it is really my ability to apply a unique formula of best practices assembled from my experience working with some of the most known and successful consumer brands in the U.S. during formative years.

What’s it like to work with Benno?
1. Engineer/analyst by nurture
2. Innovator/creator by nature
3. Engaged/high energy
I spent the first ten years of my career as a merchant & marketer for global retail brands (like IKEA and Pottery Barn), and my second decade in private equity boot camp turning around privately or PE owned distributors.
I challenge leadership. I’m not the right choice for a company that wants to be cautious and incremental. The market punishes companies that choose that path. Customers (and employees) are drawn to companies that show courage, commitment and vision. I learned early on that personal leadership is key to engaging employees and getting them aligned with the brand promise.

Results

Hilda Castillo

Creative

Hilda Castillo

Creative

If you had told me I would design showrooms and work on other brand assets after I finished law school, I would not have believed it. Yet here we are, I am an analytical lawyer by training and a creative director by nature. I understand how visual elements effect a brand’s perception and a product’s value. I developed an uncanny understanding how to adjust one to elevate the other.

What’s it like to work with Hilda?
1. Analytical
2. Creative
3. Driven
I have worked to shape and build the reALIGN brand over the years, to articulate its unique standing at the intersection of innovation and execution. I love to contribute with outside perspective or hands-on help on projects.

Garden Times

David Ryan

Global Product Sherpa

David Ryan

Global Product Sherpa

I have passionately explored the globe searching for wonderful product and bringing people and companies together. I love to listen and learn everywhere I go.

What’s it like to work with David?

Teacher/Mentor
Communicator
Strategic Sourcing Expert
Intercultural Ambassador

I have developed and directed product in almost every category of Home Furnishings in over 50 different countries while working with some of the top retail companies in the USA - as Buyer or Vice President for Bloomingdale's, Pier 1, Ross, Williams-Sonoma. My passion for the home industry is infectious and I enjoy inspiring teams to reach for new opportunities. Collaborative interaction is essential in all aspects of business that I conduct.

Strategic planning and analysis coupled with my expert financial acumen have helped me to drive aggressive growth for numerous retail companies, vendors and overseas resources.

Jeff Odell

Growth Sherpa

Jeff Odell

Growth Sherpa

I’m a lifelong learner and love the challenge of building new businesses.

There’s real excitement in uncovering the business opportunity, developing a strategy with a view from the treetops, and creating tactics that work on solid ground.

What’s it like to work with Jeff?
1. Architect & builder
2. Thoughtful strategist – facts first!
3. Global perspective with an American mindset
4. Sharp focus on the customer

My perspective comes from deep experience with product distribution companies of all sizes – revenues from $500k to $25M to $2B+, both public and private. I’ve served in marketing, sales, merchandising, and business development roles, operating as team leader and manager, president, importer, buyer, sales rep, product developer, and chief cook and bottle washer.

People call me a creative problem solver, so the Growth Evaluation process is right in my sweet spot. Business growth begins with exchanging ideas, digging into the details, defining the starting point, and painting a picture of what´s possible. With imagination, great teams, hard work and purpose, the sky’s the limit.

Dome Deco

Rock Robinson

Minister of Sales

Rock Robinson

Minister of Sales

I am an accomplished Sales Executive with 25+ years of achievement growing revenue, client base & market share for leading companies across “multiple” industries. I have an uncanny gift for distilling complex business problems into palatable solutions for others.

What's it like to work with Rock?
1. Servant leader
2. Teacher
3. Communicator

I spent the first 20 years of my career with McGraw-Hill learning and working my way up through seven different sales roles, culminating in the role of VP Sales for North America. As VP Sales for two mid-sized companies, I helped position both for F500 acquisitions. Experience primarily in B2B sales and variety of industry types.

I set myself apart from others by being extremely passionate, organized and accountable…all with a “steady” demeanor even in stressful times. Empowering others & seeing their results is simply breathtaking.

Down Decor

Lynn Provenzano

Merchant Sherpa

Lynn Provenzano

Merchant Sherpa

I understand markets and people. I analyze your business from product presentation to global supply chain, and I develop/execute commercial strategies that maximize your strengths and play on your competitors’ weaknesses. I engage with people and navigate challenges easily by building trust and focusing on win-win outcomes.

What’s it like to work with Lynn?
1. Product development/sourcing expert
2. Analyst/organizer
3. People connector
I make it my business to thoroughly understand yours. I execute solutions that increase your commercial success, and I teach your team how to replicate that success time and again.

Enesco; Fleming; Furniture (Jimco/J.Hunt)

Cathy McCosham

Food Display Product Sherpa

Cathy McCosham

Food Display Product Sherpa

I love being a merchant, tracking global food and product trends. I am passionate about sourcing and developing new and unique display products and programs, and I am highly proficient at working with multiple stakeholders to determine market focus and develop assortment strategies that increase sales and grow profits.

What’s it like to work with Cathy?
1. Product development/sourcing expert, GS1 US Standards
2. Skilled in Design Thinking and Six Sigma Black Belt
3. People connector

My professional and personal travels around the world (Europe, Asia, and the Americas) have increased my cultural IQ. Travel, for me, is not a responsibility or reward, but an opportunity to experience new and different people, places and products. Curiositylets me be a ‘sponge’ when traveling and attending major industry trade shows, seminars or visiting retail markets. I am continuously learning and gathering product inspiration while cultivating and maintaining a reliable global network of manufacturing contacts and factories.

Tom Ungrodt

Gift & Décor Sherpa

Tom Ungrodt

Gift & Décor Sherpa

After 35+ years in the business of owning, marketing and operating successful retail-oriented businesses I understand what it takes to lead and win in today’s environment. Communication, mentoring personnel and delivering world class service to each client I work with is my motivation to win and continue to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

What’s it like to work with Tom?
1. Builder
2. Teamwork
3. Creative Thinker
I’m passionate about and skilled at assisting retailers market their store through effective advertising and promotion.Experience goes a long way and I have the drive and desire to bring this knowledge to you and your team.

Round Top ; Alfresco

Rick Contino

Global Strategy Sherpa (Emeritus)

Rick Contino

Global Strategy Sherpa (Emeritus)

I am passionate about developing and executing effective “go to market” strategies. I build on my consumer product successes, combine it with input from consumers, distributors, competitors, and the digital world, to mold a sound and profitable game plan that works and wins for all stakeholders.

What's it like to work with Rick?
1. Team-oriented
2. Fact-based
3. Financially-focused
4. Results-driven

Armed with my Management and Marketing degree I worked my way up in Sales, Marketing and Senior Management roles in Consumer and Industrial products. Key influencers for whom I have worked include Newell/Rubbermaid, Blyth-owned Midwest-CBK and Private Equity.
I will examine and evolve today’s situation into a larger and more profitable footprint for your business. I always aim to transform your dreams into a successful reality.

Fleming

Adam Smith

Digital Marketing

Adam Smith

Digital Marketing

As a digital brand builder and marketer, I’ve had the privilege of working in many different business verticals. As I enter my 20th year of experience, I am blessed to count among my clients large companies such as General Motors, eBay, and TriHealth, as well as smaller $50M+ manufacturing and B2B companies. The business acumen I’ve developed helps me tie together best practices for clients, and can often position them as leaders by thinking and executing outside the box of their traditional space. One of my joys is helping clients achieve leadership in their fields of expertise. Expect to be challenged in a good way. I want to help you grow, but sometimes we have to do some different activities. You may have even heard my good friend, Benno, affirm this sentiment.

What’s it like to work with Adam?
- Learning new technology constantly
- Data driven decision making
- Creative in design and strategy
- No wrong question to ask me

We often spend some time in discovery on a new client, helping to understand leadership’s goals, and the position of the company. We need to take into account the goals of customers, shareholders, and employees at a company to really bring comprehensive brand growth to fruition. We build strategy before we execute, but that execution can take the form of branding and rebranding, digital brand positioning, website builds, SaaS development, campaign creation such as SEO/SEM, social and or paid media, ecom development, marketing automation, and business intelligence software.

Fleming; Down Decor

Diane Carnevale Jones

Business Development

Diane Carnevale Jones

Business Development

As executive director for national trade associations, I had a unique perspective of how certain companies flourish and others make poor decisions, which lead to unfortunate consequences. I have met thousands of company owners and senior executives, retailers, and consumers, and collaborated with industry leaders to create unique programs. I learned from my late mother and the University of Michigan to serve creatively and with humility, no matter the opportunity.

What's it like to work with Diane?

1. Resourceful + Creative
2. High Energy + Collaborative
3. Team Builder + Connector

During my 30 years as owner of a PR and Marketing agency, we provided the best service, and raised the bar with unique programs and services. We represented eBay, Consumer Goods, Manufacturers, Artists and Authors – and more. I loved serving as the host of a TV show for Lifetime Channel.

I’m passionate about helping companies grow and flourish using positive business practices. My husband and I sponsor a speakers series for the Center for Positive Business at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Passion, Purpose and Culture – Onboarding, Servant Leadership, Customer Service – you name it, we can start a dialogue about how to collaborate with Benno and reALIGN to maximize your business growth.

WE GET RESULTS

What is a Sherpa?

The Sherpa stories are familiar; Sherpas, elite mountaineers, experts in their local areas in hazardous elevations, guide teams of climbers to reach unobtainable summits.

Our process is similar; reALIGN uses experienced business Sherpas who are familiar with unknown business territories, to expand your market footprint.

They are elite guides, experts in foreign terrain, native to business and product innovation. Guides who are genetically predisposed to work with you to reach new heights for your business expansion and profitable growth. (It’s not just some consultant’s business plan. You’ve seen the photos of climbers with backpacks. Sherpas also carry the load).

We guide your business, help you expand into new categories, new channels, or grow in old categories/channels but with a better go-to-market process. We provide market insights and brand frameworks that open new retail and B2B segments, geographic markets, and e-commerce opportunities, improve assortments, deepen supply chain access, improve internal processes, sharpen marketing collateral, and dramatically improve profitability.

We understand building business. It’s our territory.

FROM THE BLOG

Benno's Story

I was born and schooled overseas and grew up as teenager on a venison farm in America. My family instilled a growth mindset in me. I had watched my father crash from financial success in the early 1970’s, then live painfully stuck for years without revenue generating clients. When I was 16, he uprooted us to a farm on a new continent, literally 12 miles from the next traffic light, where he got unstuck: he learned to create a premium-priced organic product and to sell it to 5-star restaurants in Manhattan, more than four hours by car from the farm.

This journey ignited my passion for delivering the extraordinary (or just the ordinary, extraordinarily well) to build more profitable revenue streams.

I climbed from intrapreneur/corporate rebel to CEO. I learnt the ropes as merchant & marketer at IKEA and Pottery Barn, travelled far in search of products and factories, and we grew our employers’ revenues. My future wife and I met on an airplane, we married at a hacienda and raised two awesome daughters in Cincinnati, OH. I started to take on turn-around challenges of PE-owned companies. I travelled all over this and 35 other countries on 4 continents, and worked on factory floors in China, Mexico, or India for long stretches of time, if that’s what it took.

My story has always been about growing and expanding horizons. In 2009 I started reALIGN – at the “intersection of Innovation & Execution” – and collaborated with others to help owners and executives of mid-sized companies expand their market footprint. I love that our projects improve our clients’ metrics and significantly increase our clients’ net worth. Now I want to learn about your journey. My Sherpa collaborators and I want to guide you on your journey to new markets, new channels, new categories, and bigger horizons.

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