General Manager Development Program Instructor Spotlight: Rebecca Torpie

General Manager Development Program Instructor Spotlight: Rebecca Torpie

  |  June 15, 2022

Rebecca TorpieThe General Manager Development Program works with both new and experienced general managers (GMs) to develop the core grocery management skills they need to successfully lead their co-op. The program currently offers seven modules, such as financial metrics and marketing, all of which are taught by an experienced team of grocery retail experts.

At the beginning of the program, Columinate instructors will conduct an initial skills assessment to determine which classes would offer the greatest return on investment for both the co-op and the GM. GMs can enroll in as many modules as they’d like, depending on their specific needs.

Throughout this summer, we’ll be introducing each of the instructors in the program. Today, we are highlighting retail grocery marketing expert Rebecca Torpie.

Torpie is currently the director of marketing at BriarPatch Food Co-op in Grass Valley, California; she has been working in the cooperative world for over a decade. She got her start as the marketing director for a food co-op in Philadelphia, where she served as the organization’s first marketing professional. “They had never had a marketing person there, so there were a lot of cultural challenges in terms of building trust in the concept of ‘marketing’ within the cooperative lens,” shares Rebecca.

Before working at co-ops, Torpie owned her own food business in Philadelphia. “My businesses had very strong brand recognition, which is how I got into marketing,” she explains. “I realized I was good at telling stories through food, people, pictures, and words!” Torpie has an MBA in food marketing from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a masters in developmental psychology from Boston College.

Rebecca Torpie teaches the marketing and communications module for Columinate’s General Manager Development program. Her course includes four components that cover:

  • marketing and branding foundations;
  • promotions, planning, and process;
  • social media, digital communication, PR, and navigating politicization; and
  • building ownership through communication and internal processes.

Torpie recognizes that a basic understanding of marketing is crucial for GMs to be successful. Resources for marketing are often slim, so it’s important to examine whether marketing teams are maximizing the impact of their efforts.

“Many GMs come from the operations side of things and find it challenging to make judgment calls on the success of their team’s marketing efforts,” she explains. Without experience in marketing and communications, it can be difficult to meaningfully evaluate if your co-op is getting what it needs.

Torpie’s module gives participating GMs the foundational knowledge necessary to understand, evaluate, and contribute to their co-ops’ marketing efforts. But, the course is also great for GMs who have some marketing experience. “Marketing is a moving target,” explains Torpie. “You’re constantly having to keep up with what is new.”

This course allows participants to stay up to date on the most impactful marketing strategies and to envision their co-op’s communications strategy moving forward.

Torpie will tell you: investing in marketing is simply necessary these days. For co-ops operating in competitive environments and on ultra-thin margins, it’s imperative that marketing dollars be well-utilized. “Advertising, communications, outreach—these are the trifecta. But, how do you know if your marketing structures are solid or achieving your goals?”

The marketing and communications module gives GMs the foundational knowledge needed to grow their decision-making confidence around critical marketing concepts. Learn more and enroll in the GM Development Program here.

Have more questions?

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