Top Dog: Jacque Bray brings expertise to Kelly Eisenberg Sausage Co.
For this month’s “Concessions People” profile, we spotlight Jacque Bray of Kelly Eisenberg Sausage Company. Jacque is a product of the Midwest, with roots in Kansas City, MO. She shows her effervescent personality with everyone she meets. Jacque has served as the national sales director with Kelly Eisenberg Sausage Company for five years, replacing Ed Weinshenker after his retirement.
Ms. Bray has seen multiple opportunities in concession sales ventures and has been a fixture on the tradeshow floors of countless regional and national conventions. Her involvement with cinemas spans over 12 years in various capacities. She has become a shining star in the domain of concession supplies and now hot dogs, representing the industry’s most preferred brand, Kelly Eisenberg Sausages.
Jacque Bray was born in a small town just north of Kansas City—Richmond, Missouri, population 7,000. She received her undergraduate degree from Baker University, a private liberal-arts college. Baker is listed as a top-rated university in Kansas, boasting a job placement rate of over 98.6% of its graduates. While attending Baker University on an athletic scholarship, she excelled in softball as a third baseman and designated hitter. She went on to receive a degree in Mass Communications.
After graduating in 2003, Jacque relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, and accepted her first job in sales, selling promotion packages door-to-door. “My first job was commission-based and I needed something more sustainable since I was living on my own,” she notes. After discovering that commission-based salaries were not her cup of tea, she found an opportunity in the world of finance with Wells Fargo Financial. “I took a position as a mortgage broker and really enjoyed the sales part of my role but was feeling homesick,” she reminisces. In 2005, she welcomed the opportunity to move back to Kansas City.
Neely Sims, an alumnus of Baker and friend, heard that Jacque wanted to get back to her hometown and Kansas City. Neely made a call and invited Bray to join Cinema Scene Marketing. Jacque accepted her first sales position in the theatre channel and has been devoted to it ever since. She brought to Cinema Scene an affable focus on marketing distinctive studio products such as collector cups, kids’ trays and toppers, and a drive to assist theatre owners in growing their concession businesses through creative products. This was a unique time, as the innovation of retail-style vessels and kids’ combos was just emerging and Jacque was one of the leaders in this category.
The concentration on this emerging field was competitive and still she excelled. “It was at this time I realized my place in the professional world,” she proudly declares. Needless to say, she has proven her value.
In 2008, Jacque had the opportunity to join the Ricos Products team. Since Frank Liberto, founder and CEO of Ricos, had retired and Tony Liberto was assigned the position of president, Charles Gomez rose in the ranks, leaving a void in the regional sales department. It was a natural fit, as she already had many of the contacts and familiarity with the industry’s movers and shakers. “Ricos is a wonderful company to work for, and who wouldn’t want to hear Charlie’s contagious laugh daily?” Jacque says. “I really enjoyed my time at Ricos and I appreciate everything Charlie and the Liberto family offered me in the way of training and growth.”
Her current opportunity with Kelly Eisenberg came to fruition in 2012 when she received a call from Cliff Eisenberg. After five years of working with the Eisenberg team, she has seen substantial growth and the introduction of new products to the cinema channel, such as the All Natural Hot Dog, the Italian Dog, the Mini Dog and other all-beef products.
“I see a shift in the quality of foods that are being served in the concession stands—for the better, that is.” This is a huge challenge in her eyes and an even greater opportunity for theatres to hone an improved image in the realm of food and beverages. “I feel like most people are going to the movies for a special occasion or experience, so ‘health’ is probably not a concern. I feel like it is our job to offer the consumer the healthiest version of the foods they might select. We want to make sure items are trans-fat-free, gluten-free, no fillers, all natural. I know firsthand working at Eisenberg Sausage Company that customers appreciate high-quality foods.”
Jacque is a fan of the movies and prefers real butter on her popcorn. She laughs when she says, “I have put a hold most of my hobbies while I spend time raising my beautiful baby boy.” (Jacque and her husband Scotty have an 18-month-old son, Brooks.) Most people who know Jacque recognize that she enjoys cross-fit training, golf and anything outdoors. She is not shy about her ability to hop onstage and show her talents by playing the cowbell in bands and she has even been seen playing volleyball with Jo Burgoon and Brad Wardlow at ShowSouth. And make no mistake about it, she is a Jayhawk: Rock Chalk! Jayhawk! K U!