Ben Olsen – Director of Sales, National Accounts & Private Label —
Ben Olsen understands that the best business relationships are made in person. He has seen it proven throughout his 25+ years of experience in retail, customer service, operations and sales. Prior to the COVID pandemic, he routinely spent 60 percent of his time on the road, meeting with new and existing retail clients around the country, working alongside his team in the field, and attending corporate meetings and trade shows.
So, when the world seemed to pivot to a more virtual work environment last spring, Olsen wasn’t terribly worried. The time he invested to build those relationships also helped build trust, he says – “trust in the organization, in the products and in our teams.” And since then, Olsen says he still insists on holding video conferences as a rule.
“I do it so clients and colleagues can see me,” he says. “That’s the only personal contact that we can give them right now. It’s important that they see me, my body language – so they know I’m here, continuing to work at accomplishing their goals.”
Olsen wasn’t looking for a new job 18 years ago when Blue Seal offered him a position to direct all 11 of their company-owned retail stores in six states. At the time, Olsen was overseeing multiple Walgreens stores in New Hampshire, having spent his first 10 years out of college working his way through various management positions. But he was intrigued by the opportunity nonetheless.
“I saw an attractive, family-owned company with a solid reputation that had been in business a very long time,” Olsen recalls. “I liked what I saw so I joined them.”
A few highly successful years later, Olsen moved his family to Virginia to lead the Mid-Atlantic Regional sales team. For five years he managed a group of sales representatives and worked directly on independent dealer accounts, which he really enjoyed. But the company’s growth and another promotion eventually landed Olsen in his current role – and back to his New England roots – to take on national sales accounts and private label for Kent Nutrition Group.
Olsen oversees a team of seven and is responsible for KNG’s Fleet Business, working with key buyers who place Kent and Blue Seal products in national chain locations such as Tractor Supply Company, Family Farm & Home, and Orscheln’s. He also leads the private label component for the company, which helps develop and package feed for retail clients under their own store brands.
The job requires Olsen to lean a lot on his business relationships, and the trust he’s built with them over the years. Working for a stable, family-owned company that supports its employees also goes a long way, he says, because the growth he’s seen wouldn’t have been possible without it.
“Sure we have the longevity and the Kent family name and legacy,” Olsen says. “But we’re a company that responds and listens. If we say we’re going to do something, we do it and we follow up. We’re forth-coming. We’re honest. And that validates trust with our customers.”
Ben and his wife live in New Hampshire and have three active sons – one in college, one in high school and the youngest in middle school. He enjoys watching them play sports and being around family and friends. His family is active in their church, and Ben says he likes to keep moving by going to the gym, skiing and playing basketball.