Team Members

Jim Finley

Co-Founder and President

Jim started his food service career when in 1989 with Overton Food Service Sales, the Alabama and Florida Panhandle Tyson broker based in Birmingham, Alabama. During his eight years with Overton Sales, Jim worked his way through the ranks from customer service to K-12 specialist, then to a distributor account executive and ultimately to Sales Manager.

In 1997, Jim left Overton Sales and founded Southern Food Concepts, Inc. Two years later, SFC purchased Overton Sales. As president, Jim managed the sales team and other aspects of the rapidly growing brokerage business. In late 2009, SFC entered into a joint venture with Innovative Concept Group out of Tampa, Florida to help build and establish a strong regional footprint in the Southeast. Jim was responsible for Alabama, the Florida panhandle as well as developing new business in Mississippi and Louisiana.

In December 2011, when SFC/Innovative Concept Group Alabama was purchased by Advantage Waypoint LLC as part of their new national footprint, Jim served as a Division Vice President for the Alabama and Mississippi markets. In 2014, he was named General Manager for Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Jim remained in this role until he left Waypoint in September of 2019 to reestablish Southern Food Concepts with a mission to focus on regional client representation and local market expertise.

Rene’ Dean

Co-Founder and Vice President

Rene’s career in the food brokerage business began in 1992 with Overton Sales, working as a Customer Service representative. Soon after, she was promoted to Customer Service Manager.

In 1997, Rene’ left Overton Sales to help build Southern Food Concepts, a new food service brokerage company, with business partner Jim Finley. Rene’s duties at SFC included all aspects of office management; overseeing customer service, IT and sales support personnel.

When Southern Food Concepts joined Innovative Concept Group in 2009, Rene’ was promoted to Director of Operations with responsibility for customer service, administrative staff and sales support.

Rene’ took on a completely new role when, in December 2011, Advantage Waypoint LLC acquired Innovative Concepts. At that time, she moved into sales as the Account Executive handling US Foods Montgomery making an immediate impact with the US Foods team and their key operators.

Rene’ added account responsibility for Kelley Foods in 2014. She was instrumental in helping clients navigate the Kelley Foods acquisition by Ben E. Keith in September 2016. Along the way, Rene’ continued to develop strong relationships with Ben E. Keith’s Management and Sales teams by actively growing their business across all segments.

In September 2019, Rene’ left Waypoint to restart Southern Food Concepts, Inc. She will continue account executive duties with Ben E. Keith and US Foods.

Don Gardino

Account Executive

Don’s career in food service began with fourteen years as a successful owner of two pizzeria restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama. He joined Southern Food Concepts in 2003 as an Operator Specialist supporting Sysco Central Alabama.

In 2006, Don moved to Dothan, Alabama to become SFC’s Account Executive for Sysco Gulf Coast when the new OPCO opened in Geneva. He immediately began building strong relationships with Marketing Associates and Sysco Management. While at Waypoint, Don consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally on Sysco Corporate Broker Evaluations; specifically recognized for his presentation skills and vast product knowledge. Over the last thirteen years, Don has formed valuable relationships with multi-unit accounts and key operators. Among them
are Donut Hole, Island Wings, Sandestin Resort and Edgewater Beach Resort.

In September 2019, Don joined Southern Food Concepts as Account Executive, primarily focused on our Sysco business.

Mark Johnson

Account Executive

Mark began his food service career with Sysco Central Alabama in 1999 as a Marketing Associate working in the Montgomery area. In 2002, Mark moved to Equipment Supply Sales Specialist for Sysco Central Alabama South Region and grew his business double digits in 2002.

Southern Food Concepts hired Mark in 2003 as an Account Executive for US Foods Montgomery. He worked with US Foods Management and Sales teams. During that time, Mark helped grow SFC’s client business significantly with key street, multi-unit and healthcare accounts.

In 2011, Mark transitioned to a Multi Unit/Non Commercial Segment Specialist with Advantage Waypoint. He established relationships with key multi-unit accounts that include Sneaky Pete’s, Chappy’s Deli and Tropical Smoothie. His detailed knowledge of GPO’s, Contract Management and Healthcare regulations makes Mark a valuable resource to our clients, distributors and key operators.

Mark accepted new position in April 2019 as an Independent Distributor Account Executive for Wood Fruitticher and Halsey Food Service.
In September 2019, Mark joined Southern Food Concepts as Account Executive for key Independent Distributors, K-12 and our healthcare segments.

Tracy Mills

Customer Service/Sales Support Specialist

Tracy Mills started in 2010 with Innovative Concept Group as a Sales Support Specialist. Her duties included sample management, coordinating sales meetings, client presentations, field sales personnel requests and food shows. In 2011, accepted the same position with Advantage Waypoint. Tracy excelled in this position by creating inventory controls for samples and point of sale materials, food show management and developing relationships with manufacturers and distributors.

Tracy was hired by Southern Food Concepts in September 2019. She is responsible for customer service and sales support for SFC. Her excellent communication and organizational skills, product knowledge and work ethics make her a valuable asset to our team.

Wayne Lemelle

Account Executive

Wayne started working in the food service business at the early age of thirteen.  Upon graduation from Tulane University, Wayne ventured into a career of managing restaurants in the New Orleans area.  After twelve years of restaurant management, Wayne joined Sysco Foods as a marketing associate.  For the next fifteen years, he used his knowledge of food products and restaurant management to help New Orleans area restaurant owners grow their businesses while penetrating the accounts and opening new accounts.

In 2005, Wayne joined Pinnacle Marketing as a food service broker representative.  Using his relationships with distributors, operators and clients, along with his extensive knowledge of products, Wayne was recognized as one of the top performers.  When Pinnacle Marketing merged with Advantage Waypoint, Wayne continued his career as an operator specialist. In addition to his responsibilities as an operator specialist, he also assumed the responsibility of account executive for several distributors in Louisiana, including Ben E Keith and Perrone & Sons.  Some of his key accounts included Sodexo/Tulane University Dining, Sodexo/Loyola University, Sodexo/University of Louisiana, Sodexo/Xavier University, Sodexo Dillard University, Aramark/University of New Orleans and Dots Diner.  After a brief retirement, Wayne joined Southern Food Concepts in January, 2023 as an account executive and will be handling Louisiana.