Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, HARIBO of America
Rick LaBerge has been a leader in managing global sales and marketing strategies and building iconic brands for over 25 years. His expertise in strategic sales planning and innovative marketing has led him to his current role as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for HARIBO of America, producer of the #1 gummi in the U.S.
As EVP and COO for HoA, Mr. LaBerge has created a best-in-class demand organization, inclusive of sales, marketing, demand planning, customer service and strategic communications. Through his leadership in developing and executing a compelling marketing and sales strategy, he turned around the HARIBO business and it has doubled in growth over the last five years through establishing operations infrastructure, producing innovative confectionery treats, increasing distribution and launching engaging media campaigns.
Mr. LaBerge is well known for his sharp skills in turning around troubled businesses, starting-up consumer brands and transforming operations to inspire growth. Prior to joining HARIBO, Mr. LaBerge held leadership roles at prestigious companies throughout the U.S., most recently as the Vice President of Sales for Mars, Inc. In this role, Mr. LaBerge was responsible for transforming the Chocolate segment in North America, spearheading a dramatic reorganization and simplification effort that saved the business $50 million and drove $150 million in growth.
Before joining Mars, he was with Johnson & Johnson for over 20 years. He played a key leadership role in the Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson Consumer sales integration, including the route-to-market strategy development and all aspects of implementation. In his General Manager role, he oversaw a complex mix of brands and segments across the consumer sector representing $1.6 billion in sales. Mr. LaBerge led an organization that turned SPLENDA® into a household brand with retail sales in excess of $500 million. He also turned the Pepcid AC® brand from prescription to over-the-counter offering, creating a $350 million franchise and a #1 product in the category.
Mr. LaBerge holds his Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Business Economics from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and his MBA from Cornell University. He is an active member of the Board of Directors for Food and Beverage (FaB) Wisconsin and sits on the Board of Trustees for the National Confectioners Association (NCA). Mr. LaBerge lives his reputation with authenticity, consistently delivering financial and market share growth through strategic focus, a brand-building mindset, sales execution and a passionate focus on cultivating talented teams. He believes in fostering cultures of organic engagement, encouraging ideation and empowering professional development.