Who We Are
MHB & Associates, Inc., is a team of highly skilled, knowledgeable professionals with more than 60 years of combined retail sales experience. Our expertise includes various aspects of retail sales including supply chain management, buyer/supplier relationships, consumer education and data-driven decision-making.
In 2006, Marie Hughes Blankenship had recently retired after 30 years of retail experience with various companies, including Walmart Stores Inc. Even after she retired, many suppliers sought her assistance with their buyer relationships.
When her former contacts reached out for help, Marie remembered what Walmart founder “Mr. Sam” would have said—“you help them”—so, she did. What started as a one-person consulting and advising firm has grown to a four person team that works together for each client’s success.
At MHB & Associates, we value honesty and transparency in each of our client relationships—from how we treat them to what we expect from the products we help them promote. We focus on working with small to mid-sized suppliers, including those who are breaking into the Walmart and Sam’s Club markets.
We know how difficult it can be to break into a large retail market when you’re not a large company. We also understand and direct clients through the ever-evolving world of being a supplier for Walmart Stores, Sam’s Club, drug chains and natural stores. We know the challenges small companies face as they grow, and we guide our clients through those growing pains.
We primarily support clients who have products that are made in the United States and will be helpful for the consumer. Our focus niche is personal care products, and we prefer to work with clients who have sustainable and natural products. Everything we do as a company focuses on integrity and value for the client and their end consumers.
Marie Hughes Blankenship founded MHB & Associates in 2006 after a 30-year career in retail. A recognized and well respected retail authority, Marie is known for her expertise in retail leadership, merchandising, store operations, team development and motivational training and speaking.
Marie completed a successful 20-year career with the world’s largest retailer, Walmart Stores, Inc., having worked in store operations, human resources and merchandising as a buyer for several categories. Industry leaders recognize Marie as a successful leader because of her ability to contribute on both strategic and tactical issues to maximize sales, reduce expenses and maximize profit while creating a cohesive team.
Marie was awarded Walmart Buyer of the Year two years in a row, has also received numerous awards from the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from EPMA. She also has an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science.
Now, as the owner of MHB & Associates, Marie has built a team of hard-working, dedicated professionals who are committed to each client’s success.
Vice President of Operations
Janet Wilson has served as vice president of operations at MHB & Associates since 2009 after more than a decade of sales, category management and supply chain management. She works closely with clients to help them better understand the process of developing and maintaining a successful supplier relationship with either Walmart or Sam’s Club.
Her tenacity and persistence helps guide suppliers through the complicated supplier setup process through the day to day operations. Janet’s strength is her expertise in everything related to supply chain management. From purchase orders to transportation to inventory management, Janet guides the supplier through the complexities of doing business with the world’s largest retailer.
A graduate of Emporia State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Janet is well-equipped to understand the unique challenges that suppliers face, both large, established companies, and newer, small businesses.
Ken Waterson joined MHB & Associates in 2016 as a sales and Retail Link analyst. He brings more than a decade of experience in consumer goods industries including expertise in sales tracking and reporting, forecasting and trend analysis, category analysis, distribution planning and scripting (SSO’s) and merging data sets.
Ken is MHB & Associates’ expert in Retail Link, Excel, and 1Sync/GS1. This expertise makes him a key team member who helps clients better understand their category sales and use big data to make cost-effective decisions. Ken’s work as both a sales analyst and a business analyst gives him a unique edge in working with clients of all business sizes.
Ken earned a bachelor’s degree in business and public administration from the University of the Ozarks. He’s also a graduate of the Retail Marketing Analyst Program at NorthWest Arkansas Community College.
Business Development Manager
Veronica Ibarra Wallace joined MHB & Associates in April 2018 as sales manager and she brings more than two decades of experience in retail management to our team. In early 2019, because of her tenacious nature and positive grasp of the business, she was promoted to Business Development Manager.
In her more than 20 years at Walmart, Veronica spent five years as a buyer’s assistant supporting Health & Wellness and Health & Beauty Aids. During that stint as a buyer’s assistant, she earned several Assistant of the Quarter awards and in 1999, she earned the Associate of the Year Award.
As a buyer’s assistant, she became known as a subject matter expert and assisted suppliers in all relevant item creation and maintenance. She also championed ensuring that all information was submitted properly, which helped eliminate the potential for errors that would lead to loss of sales.
Much of her retail experience, however, was the 17 years she spent with the Modular Development area, where she supported Health & Wellness and Consumables organization. She led a team of 18 to make sure all the modular relays were executed flawlessly.
Before her successful career in retail management, Veronica worked 10 years in the nursing field in various capacities. She assisted onsite RNs with the care of patients of varying competency levels. Her work in that capacity provided her valuable soft skills that are vital in the retail environment including interpersonal skills, verbal and non-verbal communication, listening, and problem solving.