Louisville, KY — Brent Cotten, customer and industry affairs director for The Hershey Co., was named a 2023 Dean of the Industry by the Convenience Distribution Association at its recent Convenience Distribution Business Exchange (CDBX) in Louisville.
Dean of the Industry recognition highlights the value and importance of distributors’ many trading partners, according to CDA. It honors manufacturers and other industry members who have demonstrated a strong, continual partnership with, and support of, the distribution class of trade. The Dean designation is a mark of excellence — in industry relations, initiative and understanding of the distribution industry — and a sign of wholehearted appreciation from fellow industry members.
Cotten has been with Hershey for more than three decades, working both inside and outside the company to make a positive impact on the industry. His passion for the distribution industry was apparent from a young age when he served as the state vice-president of the Distributive Education Club of America in high school.
After interviewing for a position with Hershey during his college career day, Cotten joined the company as a sales representative immediately following his graduation from Middle Tennessee State University. As his career progressed, Cotten’s various roles with Hershey led to his promotion to customer and industry affairs director in 2012, under Hershey’s then vice-president, global customer and industry affairs, Tom Joyce. Three years later, Cotten assumed the vice-president role, representing Hershey with trade associations, at trade events and at customer events.
Cotten’s dedication to CDA and the convenience distribution industry is well-known throughout the association and beyond. A staunch advocate for financial oversight of both CDA and the Distributors Education Foundation (DEF), he has served on the CDA and DEF Boards of Directors. He also was an inaugural co-chair of the Manufacturer’s Advisory Council and an original member of the Events Planning Committee.
“‘Dean of the Industry’ is a fitting description for Brent!” said Emile Cantrell, Imperial Trading, New Orleans. “His reputation throughout his career as an industry friend, problem solver and great listener was earned. He makes people feel comfortable if they are in the suites or in the streets.”
“Brent is active and engaged on every CDA committee on which he serves and, while supportive of initiatives, is always willing to offer counter or opposing thinking to discussions when he believes it is needed,” said Rob Sincavich of Team Sledd, Wheeling, WV. “This has resulted in better decisions, conclusions, and direction regarding CDA initiatives and strategies over his tenure.”
“Brent has been an impactful member of CDA throughout the years,” said Kimberly Bolin, CDA president and CEO. “His long-term dedication to CDA has been instrumental in charting the course that we’ve been on for the past decade. His enthusiasm, expertise, and the sheer number of people that know and respect him in the industry make him deserving of this honor.”