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November 1, 2023
Why [me]: Ashley's Story
Have you ever been in a situation where you accidentally reintroduce yourself to someone after having previously met multiple times or are you prone to continuously forgetting people’s names? Ashley Klein doesn’t have interactions like this. She has wizard-like skills of not only remembering everyone she meets but also knowing personal character traits and facts about them. If you share a one-off fact with her, odds are she will remember.
Ashley is our Partner Engagement Manager for our Gordon Food Service (GFS) partnership. GFS is the largest family-owned distributor in the U.S. & Canada with 14 divisions. She works extremely closely with the GFS sales team as well as divisional leadership to enable GFS customers to use Gordon Restaurant Pro powered by MarginEdge.
This position is no small feat, as she is responsible for ensuring [me]’s sales team understands the nuances of the Gordon Food Service relationship and also ensuring that we offer the best possible service to our 700 shared Gordon Restaurant Pro clients. As one can imagine, this position is rooted in developing and maintaining great relationships with all parties involved which is not a skill one develops through training. There is a reason Ashley is so successful at what she does, and it starts with her.
Ashley had a typical Northeast childhood in a quaint, small town located in central New Jersey. She remembers traditional religious holidays centered around delectable Jewish staple dishes: matzo ball soup, brisket, and latkes. Reflecting back, her love for food started here as she watched her grandmother and mother not only put care into their cooking but also reverence.
After graduating from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, with a major in sociology and a minor in communications, Ashley jumped into the advertising industry, building relationships in her first role to leverage herself into a position on their LG Electronics account as an account manager. After a couple of months, she was approached with an opportunity to work on a field marketing team for none other than Burger King.
She remembers this time extremely fondly as her days were filled with two things she loved: people and food. Her tasks included galavanting up and down Manhattan to give away free Whoppers on Wednesdays, working with local radio stations to promote a new Burger King item, and mailing thousands of free amusement park tickets to franchisees. Her time working with Burger King was crucial for not only her professional but also her interpersonal development. She always knew she had a knack when it came to people, and this solidified it.
The job expanded and grew as the years went on, continuing to be fun and fast-paced, but Ashley felt a desire to move to a more focused agency. Ashley knew she wanted to stay in the food space so she moved towards a food-specific advertising agency, specifically working with iconic desserts like Oreo, Nutter Butter, and Chips Ahoy!. She collaborated with chefs to develop branded creative centered around new dessert recipes for chains such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Culvers, and Outback Steakhouse. She stayed there for several years, traveling around and promoting one of your potentially favorite fast-food menu items.
Ashley learned a ton but one thing in particular was clear to her: she felt a draw to entrepreneurialism. She had worked the corporate, industry-leading company life, but in her heart wanted to help build something from the ground up. She found a role at a restaurant technology company that assisted in connecting suppliers with restaurants. She was their first hire in NYC doing door-to-door sales in different neighborhoods. Here, she expanded her love for the restaurant industry while learning more and more about what it takes to grow not just companies but also restaurants.
After a many-year stint, she was ready for a new challenge. In 2018, she was referred by a friend to a cool software company that was looking to expand its sales team: MarginEdge.
Bo Davis met Ashley in NYC and she became one of the first sales hires. Every lead at that time was self-generated, so she put her walking shoes on and talked to as many restaurants in person as she could. Since MarginEdge was so new, there wasn’t any brand recognition but people were willing to learn more just based on how [me] got started and their authenticity within the restaurant industry.
Ashley felt aligned with MarginEdge’s values and was thrilled to be along for the ride as the company grew. She saw the sales team and client list multiply and was extremely proud to be a part of that journey so early on. She loved MarginEdge and loved representing them day in and day out.
In 2019, Ashley was having cocktails with a friend who had just committed to working a wine harvest. For those who aren’t familiar, a wine harvest is a months-long, back-breaking process of creating wine from vine to bottle. She became fixated on the idea. She knew she was good at what she currently did, but she had been in the corporate world since she graduated college, weaving her way around the industry excelling with each new opportunity.
She wanted to get uncomfortable, so she applied to work a wine harvest herself. Ashley said goodbye to all of her dear coworkers at MarginEdge, telling them to keep her in mind for any openings in the future, kissed her new puppy and her boyfriend goodbye, then headed north. She got a job at a vineyard in the Finger Lakes region of New York and traded in her laptop for pruners.
Ashley’s days were spent meticulously cutting and sorting grapes, rigorously cleaning those thousands of grapes, climbing up and down ginormous wine barrels, rinsing, and repeating. Her work schedule was based on demand, so six-day weeks with 10-hour days weren’t uncommon. She lived with a family close to the vineyard, whom she grew a strong bond with.
To say she was out of her comfort zone, though, was an understatement. It was an experience like no other with a steep learning curve to match. She has only the utmost respect for people in the wine industry and wouldn’t have traded this experience for the world.
The harvest came and went, and as it went the pandemic began. She was helping her family get their bagel shop up and running in a Jersey beach town when she received a call from SVP of Business Development, Bob McKay, that MarginEdge had an opportunity for her. MarginEdge was expanding a partnership with Gordon Food Service to empower its customers with digital solutions, and MarginEdge needed a liaison for the relationship. With glee, Ashley accepted and joined the [me]ople once again.
Not only has MarginEdge’s partnership with Gordon Food Service expanded, but Ashley’s role has changed by leaps and bounds too. She now leads a mighty team of Gordon Food Service devotees and still maintains the relationships she made when she started the position back in 2020. As she has grown in the role, she has kept one of our core values at the forefront of everything she does: we listen.
Above all else, Ashley’s story has one strong motif: maintaining relationships. She believes there is power in being trustworthy and putting yourself out there no matter how uncomfortable it can seem. In an industry like hospitality, maintaining authentic connections and staying engaged in those connections is crucial to be successful. According to Ashley, this starts with truly listening.
Prioritizing the partner’s needs as an individual rather than a unit is the key to a symbiotic relationship.
We are so thrilled Ashley’s experience brought her here (and back) to MarginEdge. Thanks for sharing your story, Ashley!