Management Team Profiles
Paul M. Keating, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer
Paul Keating, founder and CEO of Elite Brands, is responsible for the steadfast dedication, passion, and vision driving Elite's remarkable growth in worldwide sales, marketing, and distribution in the military resale market for each of the past 13 years.
As CEO of Elite, Mr. Keating's top priority was to build an unparalleled diverse leadership team of highly experienced, leading resale personnel, individually chosen for their comprehensive knowledge, innovative thinking, and years of industry-wide expertise.
Mr. Keating/Elite Brands partners with many top vendors nationwide to proudly serve the Defense Commissary Agency and the Military Exchanges Worldwide. He and the company are currently members of the American Logistics Association (ALA). For nine years, he was an active member of ALA's Commissary Council, where he represented small business interests in addressing industry issues, and utilized his and his team's far-reaching experience and creativity to develop and implement successful solutions and initiatives.
Prior to founding Elite in 2000, Mr. Keating held various positions in the industry, including vice president-sales and marketing for another military reseller, where he was influential in creating the infrastructure and developing the sales team that succeeded in taking that company worldwide.
Mr. Keating holds a BS in Business Administration from Bryant College and kicked off his Military Resale career in 1988. Today Elite Brands is proud to be a top supplier to the Military Resale System worldwide.
Keith A. Smith
Chief Operating Officer
Keith Smith was invited to join Elite’s Sales Team in January of 2006 and was quickly promoted to Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing. His oversight responsibility included timely execution of all field distribution and promotional objectives, and coordination of sales efforts between Elite Regional Managers and store sales representatives to ensure successful sales events. In 2012, he accepted the additional responsibilities of Chief Operating Officer, and works closely with Paul Keating, Jr., in furthering Elite’s extraordinary vision and growth. He has been instrumental in cultivating relationships within the Exchanges and the Defense Commissary Agency, as well as with Elite’s nationwide vendor partners. Mr. Smith travels extensively in overseas markets to fully develop export sales for DeCA, AAFES and NEXCOM Exchange systems. He is a past member of both the ALA Commissary and Exchange Councils where his expertise and leadership abilities are well recognized.
Prior to joining Elite, Mr. Smith was employed by a worldwide military broker where he held numerous positions of increasing sales and marketing responsibility, including Vice President of Sales. During his 30+ years within the military resale industry, he gained an abundance of relevant experience interfacing with Management both at Commissary Headquarters and the Regions.
Mr. Smith is a graduate of Western Washington University with a BA in Communications. Through his hard work, dedication, resourcefulness, and integrity, he has built an excellent reputation in the industry since 1981.
John M. Whouley
Chief Financial Officer
John Whouley joined Elite in 2000 as Vice President of Finance. Prior to working in the military resale industry, he spent 14 years employed by Coastal Oil Corporation, an international wholesaler of oil and natural gas primarily as Corporate Controller.
Mr. Whouley has extensive experience working with government contracting officers and agencies, including Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and On-Line Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA). He has developed cutting-edge financial operating systems at Elite, and fully automating electronic data interchange (EDI) with business trading partners that accurately and efficiently process purchase orders, deliveries, delivery ticket invoices (DTI), electronic payments (EFT) and price transmissions. He is responsible for maintaining strong relationships with Elite's banking and investment providers, vendor partners, and distributor network to achieve the overall financial objectives of the company.
Mr. Whouley holds a BS in Finance from Bentley College and an MBA from Boston College.
Director of Finance & Accounting
Michelle Bertone joined Elite in 2001 working on the finance & accounting team handling Accounts Receivable and Payables. Over the next several years Michelle’s displayed tremendous dedication to develop her skills and accept new responsibilities to contribute to the company success and growth. In 2008, Michelle was promoted to Accounting Manager. As well as overseeing daily financial operation of the company, she works closely with our vendor partners, distributor networks, DeCA, Nexcom, and AAFES to ensure that financial goals are being met. She has also taken lead as primary contact for Elite’s electronic data interchange (EDI) system which includes oversight for processing, maintenance as well as onboarding new trading partners. In 2016, her expertise as a valuable member of the team leads to her promotion to Director of Finance and Accounting. Michelle attended Central Wyoming College majoring in Accounting.
Gregory D. Sheldon
Chief Information Officer
Greg Sheldon joined Elite in 2000 as Vice President of Information and Technology and was instrumental in procuring and building the network and server infrastructure currently in place at Elite.He also worked closely with vendors to build the ordering and customer management systems that have been critical to Elite's yearly double-digit growth since 2000.
In 2008, Mr. Sheldon was promoted to Vice President of Operations, and became directly responsible for ensuring that cost effective operations and infrastructure were in place to support the daily flow of business. In 2011, he further assumed the responsibilities of Chief Information Officer as technology has permeated every facet of business at Elite from the field to corporate headquarters. With the dramatic increase of mobile devices and added concerns with security and dependences on technology, Mr. Sheldon ensures that Elite remains on the cutting edge of technology.
Mr. Sheldon holds a BSBA with concentration in Finance from Boston University.
Randy G. Hardee
Vice President of Business Development
Randy Hardee brings 33 years of experience in the consumer products industry, specifically servicing the military resale markets – both Commissary and Exchange – for the past 30. From 1994 to 2010, he held the position of VP of Commissary Accounts for Dixon Marketing, responsible for DeCA headquarters as well as overseeing all marketing functions. He is well known and respected throughout the industry, serving numerous tenures on the ALA Commissary Council. He has chaired several committees, to include co-chairing the Category Management committee. Randy has been certified by the Category Management Association.
Robert E. Denecke
Vice President of Worldwide Sales
In 2003, Robert Denecke was personally recruited by Paul Keating, Jr., to join the Elite Sales team and, within a few years because of his outstanding performance and in-depth industry knowledge, was promoted to Vice President of Sales in charge of the domestic market. Because of his solid experience with the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) and extensive overseas travel throughout his 23-year career, Mr. Denecke also assumed responsibility for direct oversight of both the European and Far East Commissary and Exchange markets. On the domestic front, he continues to be directly involved with the creation and evaluation of all DeCA test sets and with coordinating Elite's reset teams for the continental United States, as well as calling on DeCA Headquarters. Elite’s six highly-experienced Regional Sales Managers located throughout the country report to Mr. Denecke.
Mr. Denecke previously worked with Paul Keating at another military reseller as Regional Sales Manager where he was responsible for the Eastern Region, executing numerous presentations to DeCA Headquarters, and expertly managing product marketing and distribution in DeCA Europe.
He is a graduate of Bryant College with a BA in Business Administration and has been well-versed in all aspects of the military resale system since 1990.
Director of Business Development - Exchanges
Gary Boone joined Elite in May of 2022 as Director of Business Development - Exchanges. Prior to joining Elite, Mr. Boone was employed by a worldwide military broker where he held the position of Senior Vice President Marketing - Exchanges.
Throughout his career, Mr. Boone has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and overseas markets to positively impact sales for AAFES, NEXCOM, MCX and DeCA. He is a past member of the ALA Exchange Council and ALA DFW Board member.
During his 35 years within the military resale industry, he gained a myriad of relevant experience interfacing with Management at AAFES, NEXCOM, and Marine Headquarters. He has enjoyed cultivating relationships within the Exchanges at all levels. Mr. Boone is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University with a BAAS in Marketing and Communications. Through hard work, diligence, adaptability, and integrity, he has built an excellent reputation in the Military Resale system since 1987.
Vice President of Marketing
Dustin started his military resale career in 1999. As Vice‐president, Dustin has played a lead role in Elite’s growth and development. His primary responsibilities have been focused on the brand management of Elite’s portfolio and overseeing the company’s purchasing and inventory.
A modern‐day business executive, Dustin understands effective use of data and process. He has been an advocate of strong information systems and has led collaboration with the military distributor coalition and field operations. Dustin overseas Elite’s category management and has advanced knowledge of syndicated data applications and best practices. Since entering the industry, Dustin has been a student of the business ‐ actively attending ALA conferences, spending time out of the office working at stores, and supporting DeCA initiatives.
Dustin holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College School of Management. In an effort to continue his education and further his executive training, Dustin has been actively engaged in a professional leadership program since 2009. Philosophical exploration, case studies, and TED Talks are the basis of his leadership work. Dustin is a licensed organizer by TED and is an active member of the TED community.
Director of Logistics and Brand Planning
Liz Murphy began her career with Elite in 2003 as a key member of the distribution team who managed ordering and inventory levels with Elite's forwarding warehouse partners. She is now the Brand Development Manager for Chill and Produce Brands and works with Elite's manufacturing partners on a daily basis, managing code dates, developing promotional plans, new item assortments, and pricing strategies for the year.
Mrs. Murphy is a graduate of Bryant College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.
Vice President of Information Technology
Mr. Gorman has been an integral contributor to the dynamic growth of Elite Brands for the past 9 years and has personally led the establishment of a data and reporting infrastructure that forms the foundation on which many of the significant strategic decisions of the Company are based. As Director of Information Technology prior to assuming the responsibilities of Vice President, he automated 40-15/40-16 form creation and expanded the SDS reporting to support Stage 1, 2 and 3. He and his staff were directly responsible for profit analysis and brand forecasting, the implementation of customized Empower IT data, and subsequently Nielsen data reporting, and the successful automation of Item Change/Add/Delete worksheets.
He has further led the implementation of Elite’s 3rd party email system, hosted telephony platform, and improved the Company’s network redundancy by implementing 3rd party failover lines. The
Mr. Gorman graduated from the University of Virginia and holds both a BS and Masters degree in MIS.
Meaghan E. Sterling
Meaghan Sterling has been with the Elite Team since 2012. She began as a Brand Administrator, working closely with both the Marketing and Distribution Teams in analyzing data and streamlining daily processes. Meaghan is now a Business Manager and works closely with Elite’s manufacturing partners analyzing sales data, developing promotional plans, and optimizing item assortments and pricing strategies. Miss Sterling is a graduate of Bridgewater State College with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mathematics.