Before embarking on a career in business, Rick Sweitzer, was a two-year member of the UNH football team. His two passions collided during a class taught by sports management professor – and former Notre Dame football player – Allen Sack.
“I remember a study we did in Dr. Sack’s ‘Psychology of Sports’ class about offensive players and defensive players and their traits,” says Sweitzer. “Offensive players tend to be more organized, whereas those playing defense tend to be more disorganized. I always keep that in mind when I’m working with customers. I find out if they played sports and what position they played and then prepare myself to call on them more effectively.”
Fast forward nearly 30 years and Sweitzer is vice president of sales for the Dr Pepper/Snapple Group. He brokers deals for advertising and manages relationships with major supermarket and convenience store chains, retailers and bottlers. “I have a lot of flexibility to develop tie-in promotions with anyone I want,” he says. “I find out what the customer’s major objectives are and tailor my marketing plans to fit the needs of us both.”
Sweitzer recently worked out a “very successful” tie-in with Mr. & Mrs. T’s cocktail mixers, a Dr Pepper/Snapple brand, and a former football teammate’s packaged ice company. “That’s something that wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t a UNH connection,” he says.
As a youth playing football in Madison, Conn., Sweitzer contemplated a career as a coach and teacher until his high school coach encouraged him to go into business. After graduating from UNH with a degree in marketing, Sweitzer started his career in sales operations for Frito Lay in Dallas. While at Frito Lay he completed his MBA at Amber University in Texas. Dr Pepper hired him as a regional sales manager in 1986, and he was quickly promoted to division sales manager and then director of sales. He subsequently has served as a vice president in several divisions within Dr Pepper.
Sweitzer credits his UNH professors for teaching him to think creatively to get a desired result. “With all the downsizing that goes on today, you’re really doing the job of several people,” he says. “It’s very competitive and you have to stay at the top of your game.”
His days as a student-athlete taught him skills he still uses. “The total experience of balancing a rigorous academic schedule with a demanding and physical football schedule made me really good at balancing my time while staying very competitive.”
Posted Winter 2012