Stephen Rohrbach Wants to Learn and Lead

Written by Meg Seitz · Photography by Julia Fay

“I’m just a small-town kid from Western New York,” Stephen Rohrback says in a serious-joking way that mirrors the serious-joking manner in which we ask who he is.

He reads our [Meg and Julia] collective sense of humor immediately which tells me one thing – this guy is in sales. Having been raised on Zig Ziglar audio tapes, I say that lovingly and with all due respect. It takes someone with an innate ability to connect with people to work in sales.

That’s Rohrbach. {Continued below}

Raised in Bath, New York, the son of two teachers, Rohrbach grew up wanting to be one thing.

“All I ever wanted to be,” he says with a pause, “was a Penn Stater.”

And that happened. In 2004, he started at Penn State’s main campus in University Park; that choice not only fulfilled a lifelong dream, but also made him the fourth generation and the ninth person in his family to attend PSU.

Aside from the fact that Rohrbach is your classic sales guy, there’s something else about him that’s abundantly clear and that is the fact he’s abundantly clear – and logical and damn honest.

He studied Business Economics because that’s what he enjoyed learning about; he landed an internship with Food Lion the summer before his senior year of college – and then, post-internship, was offered a full-time job post-graduation which meant all he needed to do was return to Penn State and pass (which he did in 2008); and knew really early on that he wanted to do two things – learn and lead. And he said that to every boss or manager along the way.

Like I said – clear, logical, damn honest.

After 7.5 years with Food Lion and Delhaize America in roles ranging from store manager to procurement to commodity analyst to poultry buyer, Rohrback left to join The Emerson Group, a company responsible for managing sales for over-the-counter health and beauty products – we’re talking anything from cough drops to condoms.

“Anything in that aisle of the store,” he says waving an arm as though we’re sitting a supermarket and that aisle is over there. “I can sell it.”

“I want to learn and I want to lead,” he says. “That’s what I want to do.”

His customers are food retailers in the Carolinas and Virginia who reach out to him when they’re ready to ‘reset’ their shelves in that aisle (insert arm wave). As a result, he’s an enlightened male who stays ahead-of-the-curve on health and beauty trends – face masks, hair masks, and coconut are in, FYI.

Taking on the role of Sales Manager for The Emerson Group in February ‘18 was about the professional development, yes; but, it was also about a couple other life things for Rohrbach.

Most importantly, it helped to support a sense of balance he was craving. The two-hour commute to Food Lion’s HQ in Salisbury, NC was tough – and time consuming. The new role has allowed him the space to not only work hard, but also stay balanced – he enjoys the symphony, art gallery crawls, and yoga. A former high school swimmer, he can now get back in the pool and do laps once a week, critical to his training for the Tri Latta Sprint Triathlon on June 9.

Ironically, the balance allows him to think more about who he wants to be and what he wants to stand for professionally. With that said, it always comes back to this.

“I want to learn and I want to lead,” he says. “That’s what I want to do.”

For those who know that leadership is about connecting with as well as helping and serving others, Rohrbach is your guy.

“Being a salesperson is really about being a connector,” he notes. “My whole job is asking you two things: What are you trying to accomplish, and how can I help you?’”

If that’s not learning and leadership, I don’t know what is.

Meet the Author: Meg Seitz is the Founder and Managing Creative Partner of toth shop, an agency with one goal: Elevate your brand’s content through powerful writing, creativity, and strategy. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor with Queens University and Founding Partner of the children’s book series, “Bea is for Business”.

She’s an English major with an MBA, so she can talk Homer’s “The Odyssey” just as well as she can talk sunk costs – though she’d much prefer the former.

Meet the photographer: Julia Murray, owner of Julia Fay Photography, feels most at home behind a camera with a story to tell on the other side. Her business began during her sophomore year of college, while majoring in radio and tv broadcasting. Now residing in Charlotte NC, she primarily shoots weddings and other local small businesses like her own. Her favorite part about her job is the connection it brings between art and people.