Billy Lentz has been a member of the Garner Foods team for years and has helped many of our military and c-store partners to grow their sales with Texas Pete® products through hard work and his commitment to service. This year, Billy takes on a new role within our organization as the Regional Sales Manager for the heartland foodservice markets (NC, SC, and GA), and we took a few minutes to catch up with him and learn what makes Garner Foods so unique in the market.
Brashears: When did you begin working for Garner Foods?
Billy: I started in April 2017 as the C-Store business sales manager and worked with our military partners as well. I loved both market segments and learned a lot from the professionals I had the opportunity to collaborate with.
Brashears: What attracted you to the Garner Foods organization?
Billy: I grew up in Winston-Salem, and Texas Pete® had been a staple in our family while I was growing up. We had Texas Pete® on the table more than ketchup. I met a lot of the Garner Foods team and family and really loved the culture they’d built. My brother had worked in Garner for a long time, and I heard everything he believed about the work they were doing. It’s such a highly respected brand, and I was excited when Dan Plunkett called me with the opportunity.
Brashears: What was your prior experience before coming to Garner Foods?
Billy: My brother was always talking about the great things they were doing. I loved hearing from other people how much the brand had meant to me. It really is a special thing they are doing at Garner Foods. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Everyone I’ve met seems to have a personal story of what Texas Pete® has meant to them.
Brashears: What do you love about working in the food industry?
Billy: I’ve always been a foodie. I was raised on it. I was going to trade shows with my family and learning about the industry. It’s filled with good people with a passion for the products and businesses in our market. You are always meeting innovative people that want to create the next best things for customers. It’s exciting!
Brashears: If Garner Foods was a sports team (any sport), who would they be and why?
Billy: I’d say a Red Sox or a Chicago Cubs organization. They are both teams that are built on the passion of their fans. Rich in tradition and heritage with loyal followers. We have an amazing team that’s really working well together.
Brashears: What are your favorite ways to unwind and recharge?
Billy: Here in North Carolina, we love to be in the mountains or at the beach within a half-day. My wife and I love to sneak away and enjoy being outdoors. I love to hike and recharge out in some great wilderness areas.
Brashears: What’s your favorite way to help or inspire other professionals around you?
Billy: Just by sharing experiences really. I’ve had so many opportunities to adjust my own way of thinking and being open to other people’s perspectives and voice my own opinion. Collaboration is key to success wherever you are.
Brashears: What is your favorite food or cuisine?
Billy: I love so much food. If I had to pick one though I’d probably go back to my southern roots and the amazing foods in our tradition. Home cookin’ is where I’d have to pick what I love most. Give me any grilled meat and some vegetables, and I’m happy.
Brashears: What are your top 3 favorite places to travel?
Billy: I got the opportunity to spend a few months in London several years ago and loved it. I went to school there and traveled by rail to so many amazing places. I would love to do that again. I also love tropical beaches as well. I’ve enjoyed going to the Keys and to the Outer Banks because I love the history in those places.
Brashears: What is a professional goal you have for 2021?
Billy: I started a new role at Garner this year, and a personal goal for me is to grow in that new role and take in all the expertise and education it will provide. I’m excited by the opportunity to grow the brand here in the heartland where it started. I want to lead us to our brightest years here on our home turf.
Brashears: What was the last Garner Foods product you used?
Billy: Oh, one of my favorites! I had the Texas Pete® Sautéed Garlic Hot Sauce today with lunch.
Brashears: If you could have been born in any era of history, what would you choose and why?
Billy: Two come to mind, but the roaring ’20s have to be my pick. That era Fitzgerald portrayed in The Great Gatsby was amazing with everything that was going on. The automobile was new—and changing the landscape of America. People were embracing so many new technologies and scientific discoveries.
Brashears: What was the last thing (podcast, book, speaker, etc.) that really inspired you?
Billy: I listen to a ton of podcasts since I travel a lot, but the Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” is something that really stuck with me. His motivation, passion, and drive were so amazing, and to see his reflection on his career was really inspiring.
Brashears: If you were going to write a book or some other piece of media, what would it be about?
Billy: I’d probably build a pretty good food podcast about the people and personalities behind some legendary restaurants that exist around this area. I think I could put together some really great interviews with some amazing people and help them share their stories.
Brashears: What are you binge-watching right now?
Billy: The Curse of Oak Island is my current obsession. I have loved every episode and season and have been so compelled by the search the story is based around.
Brashears: Who is your favorite musical artist?
Billy: Sturgill Simpson’s new “Cutting Grass” album is amazing. I love all his albums and how he’s constantly reinventing himself.
By David Brashears, Public Relations Director