Meet the New Category Manager – Carissa Johnson

Four years ago, Carissa Johnson visited Utah from her home in Florida, and fell in love with the state, especially the mountains. “I was ready to move here then, but the timing wasn’t quite right,” said Associated’s newest Category Manager. “There really weren’t any opportunities and we had a one-year-old, so we had to put the thought on hold.”  

Carissa comes to Associated with a deep background in grocery and bakery. She started with Publix as a cashier at 16 and has stayed in the grocery business ever since. “Well, that’s not quite right,” Johnson corrected herself. “After I graduated from the University of Central Florida, I thought I needed to work in a different direction for some reason, less than a year later I was back where I loved, the grocery industry.” 

Carissa worked her way up to a coveted Retail Improvement Specialist (pronounced “riz” for short) in the Publix organization. There she oversaw 35 bakeries and coached, developed, and trained them. She was responsible for sales, shrink and the teams in those bakery departments. Johnson held that position for 5 ½ years and in that time orchestrated the openings of bakery departments for ten new stores.  

After a brief stay in South Carlina, still in the Publix organization, Carissa saw the opening for a Category Manager, responsible for the bakery and baby aisles at Associated Food Stores. After seeing the posting, memories of her visit to Utah four years earlier came rushing back. “Our hearts were already in the mountains,” said Carissa, speaking of her husband and son Jaxon. “We thought, ‘now is the time… let’s do this!’”  

After sending her resume to apply, Lon Herget the Grocery Director was quick to reach out. A first and second remote interview with Herget and David Panter, Vice President of Grocery, it was apparent there was a good match. “We were thrilled with Carissa’s knowledge,” explained Herget. “She brought a wealth of experience with her, and we have already begun learning from her.  We are lucky to have her on our team!”  

After a three-day journey from South Carolina to Salt Lake City with her husband and son, Carissa is excited to get to work. “I am in touch with what is trending in baking, and learning about the baby section every day,” says Johnson. “But I certainly do not pretend to know everything. If I have a question, I am not afraid to ask, and everyone has been great to help.” 

And so, the four-year journey to the mountains ends and begins as a new chapter for Johnson and the category management team. “I am all about culture, and you can definitely feel a great culture here at Associated,” concluded Carissa. “I am 100% committed to this team and making the very best decisions for our customers.”