Rhonda Dowdall

Lowes Foods Category Manager for Deli Bakery

 Starting Off and Current Role

I originally started as a part-time cashier in 1994. I moved into the office part-time after that, and then became full-time shortly after. I became an assistant front-end manager, then deli bakery manager, deli manager, and co-manager. I went through a training program the company offered. After that, I was offered a temporary position as a deli bakery merchandiser, which then turned into a permanent position. My current role is category manager for deli bakery. 

My merchandising role has been the biggest catalyst for growth. As a department manager, your responsibilities are big, but they’re just within one store. As a merchandiser, I have 23 stores in deli and bakery. There is a much larger amount of people you impact in this role.

Formula for Success

There are a lot of opportunities that the company offers to help you learn and grow. You have LinkedIn Learning, eCornell, and there are many more different platforms for e-learning and job shadowing, too. It’s a matter of taking those opportunities.

I’m a cliché -I’m a people person. In training and development, I like seeing that “aha!” moment on someone’s face. And I’ve really enjoyed seeing the change and growth Lowes Foods has experienced in the past seven years. That’s when the excitement really started. It was when we took a path in becoming more than a grocery store. We became something bigger, special. 

Help Along the Way

Division director, Mark Spoon, who retired this year, was a mentor to me. I learned a lot and also got some tough love. But he was always coaching me, saying, “Let me give you different insight into how you can do a little better.” Anita Smithwick, who also retired this year, helped in my development as well when I was first in deli bakery. 

People come into grocery stores sometimes thinking it’s just a job. But when you delve into it, there’s a career aspect. It’s great that Lowes Foods is now shouting that. Knowing that there are career opportunities gives you direction.

I like seeing that “aha!” moment on someone’s face.