2020 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Rob Kinsella

Age: 37
Director – Retail
CH Robinson/Robinson Fresh
Eden Prairie, MN

Kinsella is considered a key leader within Robinson Fresh/C.H. Robinson, heading the company’s retail vertical offerings among other steering committees within the C.H. Robinson enterprise. Growing up in the operations of the fresh business, he has been instrumental to the growth of the organization, having an extended history of success through commercial-facing efforts. He’s also involved in building mutually beneficial supply chain services that support the ongoing initiatives of the direct and indirect retail customers. Following graduation from Minnesota State University-Mankato, Kinsella entered the produce industry with C.H. Robinson. From his first day, he has had a focus and gravitation to the grocery retail supply chain in both fresh produce and floral. For the past 15 years, he has held various roles across both companies that have allowed him to collaborate, innovate and experiment with temperature controlled supply chain practices and methodologies.

Currently, he leads a team of account managers who engage many of the world’s largest retailers. He has responsibilities of creating multi-year strategies, designing internal structure and talent development of his team, and developing a world class customer experience for his clients. After years of working with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Kinsella recently joined its Transportation and Infrastructure Committee where he meets monthly with leaders from 50 plus retail organizations. They work collaboratively to create positive change within the retail supply chain. Establishing lasting relationships with key stakeholders in the grower/shipper, retail, wholesale, foodservice and carrier communities has allowed him to consistently deliver high-quality results while always driving innovation and efficiency into the fresh industry.

Hobbies: Hiking, Golf, Mountain biking, Home projects, Cooking/Grilling, Local live music

Personal: Married, three kids

Motto in life: “He or she who rides the bull can never dismount.”

Q: How did you begin working in the produce industry?
This industry is all about relationships. When two of my closest friends began working at C.H. Robinson as interns while we attended MSU together, they spoke of the speed, the energy and the culture surrounding the industry and the company. I was hooked my very first day and have not looked back.

Q: What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of in your career?
Besides earning the chance to lead a team of highly successful professionals every day, I am most proud of being on the team that won Third Party Logistics Provider of the Year, three times running, from one of the retailers that continues to drive this industry.

Q: What industry improvements would you like to see?
I would like to see those involved in creating regulations find the appropriate balance between safety and productivity. I would love to find a way for the produce industry across the entire supply chain to more cost-effectively provide families the opportunity to consume more fruits and vegetables. I would love to see retailers continue to push the boundaries of the ‘in-store’ experience, with a produce-first mindset. Also, I want the industry to find a way to grow locally (year round) as a way to not only reduce food miles but also generate economic growth in local communities.

Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the produce industry by the public at large?
The consumer has been educated that the quality of the products must be higher if it is sourced locally. While supporting a local economy is important, high-quality products can come from anywhere around the world with a great supply chain. The key is to understand the best growing and sourcing region for that product tied to seasonality, as that will ultimately dictate the quality of the product.