Walmart hires principal of incubator, IHOP president becomes CEO of Casey’s General Stores and more executive changes
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA), Philadelphia, Pa.
Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA, and Gene Cleary, senior director, independent sales at C&S Wholesale Grocers, were appointed to the board of directors. Cleary was named board secretary, replacing Frank Puleo, vice president of retail marketing and services for C&S Wholesale Grocers. Board member Lisa Dell’Alba, president and CEO of Square One Markets, was named board treasurer, replacing Tom Cormier, manager of government affairs at Retail Business Services, a subsidiary of Ahold Delhaize USA. Cormier was promoted to board vice chairman, replacing Lou Mola, loss prevention manager at Wawa.
National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa
David Newman was elected president. Newman is an associate professor of animal sciences at Arkansas State University, where he teaches and conducts research with an emphasis in meat science. Newman most recently served as board vice president on the 2020 Strategic Planning Task Force and on the Swine Health committee. He previously chaired the Domestic Marketing committee, served on the Producer Services committee and participated in Pork Leadership Academy. Mike Skahill, vice president for Smithfield Foods, was elected vice president. Skahill most recently served as board treasurer. He also serves on the National Pork Board International Marketing Committee, the U.S. Meat Export Federation Pork Allied Industries Committee and chairs the trade committee for the North American Meat Institute. Gene Noem, owner of KD Feeders, was elected treasurer. Noem also manages the contracted gilt multiplication for PIC North America. He most recently served on the 2020 Strategic Planning Task Force and co-chaired a joint We Care task force with the National Pork Producers Council. Noem also serves on the Iowa Pork Producers Association board of directors and on its promotions committee. And, Steve Rommereim, owner, manager and operator of Highland Swine, was named immediate past president. Rommereim most recently served as 2018-2019 board president. He is also part owner of SDI Pork LLC. During his tenure on the National Pork Board, he has served on numerous committees, including the 2020 Strategic Planning Task Force. He is past president of the South Dakota Pork Producers Association, and currently serves on South Dakota Animal Industry Board and was just elected to the U.S. Animal Health Association.
American Meat Science Association (AMSA), Savoy, Ill.
Collette Schultz Kaster was appointed new chief executive officer, effective July 1. Kaster maintains more than 25 years of technical experience in food safety, quality assurance and animal welfare, as well as managing teams across livestock industry companies and organizations. Most recently, she served as executive director of the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO), a role she will continue. Kaster is a meat scientist, has been a member of AMSA for 28 years and is a past president of AMSA.
Krasdale Foods, White Plains, N.Y.
Dennis Wallin, the company’s longtime head of retail development, was promoted from vice president to executive vice president of Alpha 1 Marketing, Krasdale’s merchandising and marketing affiliate. Wallin joined Krasdale in 1991, and will continue to serve as the company’s eyes and ears on the street, regularly visiting with store owners and scouting neighborhoods across the tri-state area and Florida to understand the competitive landscape and identify new opportunities. During his 50-plus year career, Wallin has worked in both in-store operations and development. He began his career at 16 years old with Co-oP Supermarkets, where he remained for 25 years. Wallin initially joined Krasdale as a retail counselor and later took over as director of operations at C-Town before transitioning into business development. Wallin was also instrumental in helping the company expand into Florida.
Sun Basket, San Francisco
Jessica Jensen was named chief marketing officer, responsible for driving Sun Basket's revenue growth, building an iconic brand and creating strategic, omnichannel partnerships. Previously, Jensen led high-performance marketing teams at some of the world's leading technology companies. Most recently, she spent the last 5 years at Facebook as head of platforms, products and insights, where she oversaw B2B marketing for Instagram and Messenger. Before working at Facebook, Jensen served as global head of product marketing for Apple's mobile advertising platforms and was general manager of Yahoo! Health and Yahoo! Shine, which she built into the largest women's website in the United States. Furthermore, Marc Friend was appointed chief financial officer, responsible for architecting the company's business model, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions and fundraising as well as leading the finance, accounting and HR operations. Friend maintains close to 20 years of experience as a strategic CFO at high-growth technology companies and as a general partner at two of Silicon Valley's top venture capital and private equity firms. Most recently, Friend was chief financial officer of PubNub, and before that, was chief operating officer at Initio. Before his operating roles, Friend was general partner at Summit Partners, where he led the venture investing practice. Prior to Summit, Friend was a general partner at US Venture Partners.
Organto Foods Inc., Canada
Ine Potting was appointed business development director. Potting maintains over 30 years of fresh fruits and vegetables experience, with exposure across a variety of functions, including sales and marketing, sourcing and procurement, logistics, supply chain and administration. Previously, Potting served as global sourcing director for Scherpenhuizen B.V., where she established an import/export department for overseas products from procurement through selling, and in doing so, developed an extensive avocado program. Potting also previously served as managing director/export manager, Europe for Mission Produce Europe B.V., where she was responsible for all business operations, including buying, selling, logistics planning, supply chain, operations and administration in Europe, and over a 3-year period, increased revenues by approximately 20 million Euro.
Dixie Brands Inc., Denver, Colo.
Greg Robbins will join as chief financial officer, effective June 24. Robbins most recently served as vice president of finance at Red Bull. Robbins is a seasoned financial executive and certified public accountant with more than 25 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods, telecommunications and professional services sectors. He held senior financial management roles at Red Bull North America for more than a decade, culminating in the vice president finance position from 2013-2019, where his responsibilities included treasury management, optimization of the facilities portfolio and providing insights relating to market trends, pricing, production volume, planning and supply chain. From 2000-2008, Robbins held several financial management positions, including global controller, enterprise solutions sales and marketing at Nokia Mobile Phones. James Feehan, who has served as interim CFO since September 2018, will remain with the company to facilitate an orderly transition.
Walmart Inc., Bentonville, Ark.
Scott Eckert was hired as principal of Store No. 8, the company’s investment arm and startup incubator, taking over for Lori Flees, who ran Store No. 8 in addition to working as senior vice president of health and wellness at Sam’s Club. Flees will now only focus on her role at Sam’s Club. Eckert is a former executive of Bain Capital Ventures, and has built companies, raised venture capital and brought disruptive technologies to market.
C&S Wholesale Grocers, Keene, N.H.
Bob Palmer, executive vice president and chief procurement officer, announced plans to retire, effective September 30, after more than 30 years with the company. During his tenure, he improved customer service, established a best-in-class procurement discipline and helped expand the company.
Casey’s General Stores, Inc., Ankeny, Iowa
Darren Rebelez was selected president and CEO, effective June 24, succeeding Terry Handley, who will retire from the company after a 38-year career. Rebelez maintains over 25 years of business leadership experience focused on operations, marketing and merchandising for large corporations in the convenience store, fuel and restaurant industries. Rebelez previously served as president of IHOP Restaurants, a unit of Dine Brands Global, where he oversaw operational performance and segment earnings growth and developed and implemented digital strategies to connect guests via mobile platforms and online channels.
Verus International, Inc., Gaithersburg, Md.
Christopher Cutchens was appointed chief financial officer, effective June 1. Cutchens maintains more than two decades of experience in public and private corporate finance. Most recently, he served as managing partner of Cutchens Group, LLC, and chief operating officer and chief financial officer of DirectView Holdings, Inc. In addition, Cutchens has served in various leadership positions at private companies, including executive vice president, COO and CFO of MidAmerica Administrative & Retirement Solutions, LLC, and executive vice president and CFO of Aspire Financial Services, LLC. Cutchens has also held various leadership positions at public companies, including corporate controller of Watsco, Inc., and director of corporate accounting and financial reporting at MarineMax, Inc.
Subway, Milford, Conn.
Len Van Popering was promoted to chief brand and innovation officer, tasked with overseeing global brand strategy, culinary and broader innovation, convenience programs, including catering and delivery and the brand’s design and packaging teams. He will also lead Subway’s global beverage partnerships, guest experience, community engagement, public relations and corporate communications. Van Popering joined Subway in 2017 as vice president of brand management and culinary innovation, where he led the introduction of new flavor profiles and expanded the company’s innovation pipeline. Meanwhile, Marie Silloway was named vice president of brand management, tasked with guiding the brand’s center of design excellence, global packaging functions and convenience strategies. Silloway previously served as chief brand equity and customer experience officer for Godiva; vice president of marketing and category for Starbucks China; and senior vice president at Estée Lauder. Renee Hourigan was tapped as director of convenience innovation, responsible for building the company’s delivery program, among other initiatives. Hourigan previously served as vice president of marketing for Victorinox Swiss Army. And, chef Ciaran Duffy was appointed senior corporate executive chef to help introduce new menu items. Duffy has worked with top brands across multiple sectors.
True Food Kitchen, Phoenix, Ariz.
Peggy Rubenzer was named chief people officer, responsible for driving the company's talent management strategy, which includes leading people operations, attracting industry top talent, building leading-edge learning and development programs and developing rewards and recognition strategies. Rubenzer has served as senior vice president of people resources for Shake Shack for the past 8 years, and played a significant role in the growth and development of the brand, helping take it from nine locations in 2011 to more than 200 locations in 13 countries around the globe. Rubenzer also led HR strategy and was instrumental in the creation and execution of the company’s people and talent strategies. Before joining Shake Shack in 2011, Rubenzer held leadership positions at P.F. Chang's China Bistro, first as vice president of people services from 2002-2007 supporting 300 restaurant locations with more than 27,000 employees around the globe, before taking on the role of vice president of training and development from 2007-2011. She began her human resources career in 1989 with Southwest Airlines, where she spent 10 years developing expertise in the selection and training of service employees and corporate management.
IHOP, Glendale, Calif.
Jay Johns was named president, effective June 13, succeeding Darren Rebelez, who was selected president and CEO of Casey’s General Stores (see above). Johns has been senior vice president of operations for IHOP since 2017, and has held various operations roles since joining the company in 2009. Meanwhile, Charles Scaccia was appointed senior vice president, operations. Scaccia has been with the chain for more than 21 years.
RKW Group, Germany
Dr. Manfred Bracher, member of the executive management board, announced plans to resign, effective June 30, to pursue new professional opportunities. Bracher started his professional career as a project leader at the Austrian Lenzing Group, followed by 12 years at Huhtamaki in various positions, latest as general manager films. From 2008-2013, he served as managing director at Clopay Europe GmbH. Bracher has been a member of the RKW board since January 2014, and leads the hygiene and industrial division. He is also responsible for the group functions operational excellence and purchasing. Harald Biederbick, chief executive officer, will take over Bracher’s responsibilities until further notice.
BakeMark, Pico Rivera, Calif.
Christina McDermott was appointed new national accounts manager, effective May 28. Most recently, she worked at Dairy Management Inc., nurturing partnerships with Domino's Pizza and McDonald's while leading cross-functional teams to drive dairy sales through menu and marketing innovation. She also spent time at Solo Cup Co., where she was the Starbucks sales director for 2 years and foodservice marketing director for 5 years. She also spent 7 years at Sara Lee in various foodservice marketing leadership positions.
The Greenbrier Cos., Inc., Lake Oswego, Ore.
Adrian Downes, senior vice president and acting CFO, was appointed chief financial officer, where in addition to continuing his duties managing Greenbrier's accounting, tax, internal audit and IT functions, Downes will also serve as the company's principal financial and accounting officer. Downes maintains more than 30 years of accounting and finance experience in a variety of industries, both with publicly held and privately held companies. Before joining Greenbrier in 2013 as chief accounting officer, he was executive vice president and CFO for Knowledge Universe. He also previously held various senior financial executive positions for Fortune 200 publicly held organizations, including SUPERVALU, Albertson's, Gap, Inc. and Pacific Telesis. He began his career in public accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
AIT Worldwide Logistics, Itasca, Ill.
Mike Tegtmeyer was appointed new vice president, global infrastructure, tasked with overseeing the worldwide management of AIT’s technology infrastructure, hardware platforms and network security. He will also lead efforts to streamline the organization’s global communications while guiding enhancements to AIT’s disaster recovery program. Over the course of his career, Tegtmeyer has garnered a reputation for optimizing IT operations environments while driving results-oriented IT strategies for a variety of businesses. He guided numerous high-profile security, network and telecom projects working for Brunswick Corp., before serving as director, network operations for FTD Cos., Inc. where he consolidated network operations centers with follow-the-sun support. Most recently, he was vice president, information systems and security for Rewards Network.
TricorBraun, St. Louis, Mo.
Brett Hecker was appointed chief information officer, effective immediately, charged with leading the company’s information technology function and overseeing the company’s technology strategy. Hecker succeeds Doug Bolen, who is leaving the company after a decade of service and achievements. A 25-year IT industry veteran, Hecker most recently served as vice president and chief information officer, commercial and customer enablement at Honeywell International, where he led CRM consolidation and process standardization, and developed an enterprise suite of applications to support the company’s digital marketing initiatives. He also delivered e-commerce, pricing and portal solutions for customers and channel partners. Hecker began his career at Price Waterhouse LLP, and also led systems integration and strategy for other Big 6 management consulting firms.
Merit Logistics, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Belinda Ochoa was hired as new risk and safety manager, responsible for developing, establishing and maintaining a consistent safety program at Merit service locations nationwide. She will also be conducting regular on-site ergonomic evaluations and assessments at all distribution centers. Ochoa maintains over 25 years of warehouse safety and workers’ comp experience. Working as a consultant for Merit over the past year, Ochoa made major strides in elevating safety awareness and training.
Diversey North America, Fort Mill, S.C.
Dan Helwig, technical trainer, announced plans to retire after 40 years of service. During his tenure with Diversey, Helwig held various roles such as product manager, regional and national sales executive, and in 1988, became associate training manager, and later, director of training and applications. He began his career with Diversey as a territory manager in Cincinnati, Dayton and Racine, Ohio.
Deliv, Menlo Park, Calif.
International retail and grocery expert, author and tech investor James McCann joined the board of directors. McCann maintains a storied career in retail and grocery market segments, leading businesses for Tesco before being named chief executive officer of Carrefour’s French business. He also served as chief commercial officer for Ahold in the Netherlands, before taking the helm at Ahold USA as chief executive officer, where he led it through a major transformation and subsequent merger with Delhaize. McCann is now an active investor in early stage companies in grocery and food tech as well as consumer goods.
Ryder System, Inc., Miami, Fla.
Rich Mohr was named vice president and chief technology officer, responsible for leading the development and execution of Ryder's new products, electric and autonomous vehicle initiatives, connected fleet strategy, predictive data and analytics for maintenance and its peer-to-peer vehicle-sharing app, COOP By Ryder. Most recently, he led Ryder Truck Rental as vice president and global product manager.
City National Bank, New York
Jennifer Pricco Braasch and Zachary Chubb were appointed managing directors. Braasch supports the food and beverage industry throughout Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky with creative financing solutions and industry intelligence. She maintains nearly 20 years of experience, and previously served in Wells Fargo’s food and agribusiness group. Chubb leads the bank’s East Coast food and beverage efforts, providing comprehensive capital solutions and a full suite of financial products to food and beverage businesses and their owners located throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C. He maintains more than 15 years of experience, and previously worked in RBC Capital Markets’ food and beverage investment banking group.
MonarchFx, a Tompkins International company, Raleigh, N.C.
Bruce Tompkins was named president. Tompkins maintains more than 30 years of operations and leadership experience in traditional industrial engineering, manufacturing and materials management. His focus is on manufacturing and distribution processes, lean manufacturing implementation, Six Sigma methodologies, ISO/QS quality systems, benchmarking and gap analysis. Alex Baker was named chief operating officer, tasked with directing and overseeing all facets of the MonarchFx distributed logistics ecosystem, encompassing strategy and execution for solution design, implementation, fulfillment operations, final mile and customer service. Baker maintains more than 20 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to accelerate growth, maximize profitability and strengthen supply chain performance. He also specializes in retail strategy and omnichannel distribution operations. Mike Pujda was named vice president to oversee integration efforts between warehouse management systems, applications and material handling control systems in conjunction with operations supporting the entire MonarchFx ecosystem. Pujda maintains more than 30 years of experience applying technology to support improved business operations both internationally and domestically.
Ipack Ima srl, a joint venture between Ucima and Fiera Milano, Italy
Valerio Soli was named chairman. Soli is chief executive officer of a cluster of Coesia Group member companies, including ACMA, GDM, IPI and System Ceramics.
Janus International, Temple, Ga.
Christine DeBord joined as vice president of business development of the smart entry and facility automation division, where she will focus on the continued growth and development of the Nokē Smart Entry system and will continue to lead the marketing team for all Janus divisions. DeBord joined the Janus team in 2018 as director of marketing. Prior to coming to Janus, DeBord handled both marketing and dealer channel development for PTI Security Systems.
Eriez, Erie, Pa.
John Blicha was promoted from director of global marketing and communications to senior director of global marketing and communications, developing and executing global market growth strategies and providing strategic and operational direction to Eriez-USA and all Eriez global subsidiaries. Blicha’s ongoing duties include overseeing all corporate advertising and public relations campaigns, the company’s websites and its participation at industry tradeshows. Blicha joined Eriez in 2012. Greg Nowak was promoted from technical director of research and development to senior technical director, providing strategic leadership to the Eriez-USA engineering team, as well as directing the company’s global research and development efforts. Nowak joined Eriez in 1989. Chris Knoll was promoted from product engineering manager to director of global research and development, responsible for all Eriez corporate product research and development activities. He will also utilize his industry expertise and project management skills to spearhead new product innovations. Knoll joined Eriez in 2011.
Clean Water Technology, Inc., Los Angeles
Mike Yeager was hired as new chief executive officer. Yeager maintains 39 years of experience working in executive level positions, including operations, engineering, continuous improvement, business development and sustainability.
IN MEMORIUM: JEFF SCHROEDER, KINETIC12 CONSULTING
Jeff Schroeder, managing partner at Kenetic12 Consulting, Chicago, passed away from a sudden illness on June 1.
Schroeder has been a part of the International Foodservice Distributors Association community both as an allied member and partner in organization’s vendor agreement project.
A memorial service will be held June 11 at 2 p.m. at Northside United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Ga. In lieu of flowers, charitable donations can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
IN MEMORIUM: BRUCE THARP, THARP’S FOOD TECHNOLOGY
Bruce Tharp, president of Tharp’s Food Technology, Wayne, Pa., passed away at the age of 89. He began his career in ice cream at an early age while working for the family business, Tharp’s Ice Cream.
Tharp taught and conducted research at The University of Wyoming and The Ohio State University before spending 35 years managing technical affairs for Drew Foods and Germantown International.
In 1997, he launched a new career and became a frequent lecturer at short courses, seminars, workshops and technical conferences around the world, including IDFA’s annual Ice Cream Technology Conference. He also was an adjunct professor of food science at Penn State and served 30 years as the chief ice cream judge at the Intercollegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest.
Contributions in his memory can be made to CdLS Foundation, 302 W. Main Street, Suite 100, Avon, CT 06001; the Wayne Oratorio Society, 125 E. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, PA 19087; or to the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, 1218 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
IN MEMORIUM: ROCCO CINGARI, GRADE A MARKET, INC.
Rocco “Rocky” Cingari, president and CEO of Grade A Market, Inc., the Stamford, Conn.-based owner of 11 ShopRite stores in Connecticut, passed away June 3.
Cingari has served as president and CEO of Grade A Market for nearly 40 years until January, when his nephew, Tom Cingari, Sr., succeeded him as president and CEO. Rocky continued to work alongside his brother Sam Cingari, three nephews and two great-nephews, Chip, Joe, Tom Sr., Dominick and Tom Jr., respectively.
Trained as a master butcher, Rocky worked most of his life in the grocery business founded by his father, Salvatore Cingari. In 1991, Rocky led the family company as it joined Wakefern Food Corp., and began opening ShopRite stores in Fairfield and New Haven, Conn.
He was a past member of Wakefern’s Meat committee and also served on the company’s board of directors.
He also served in the U.S. Navy, and spent the next seven decades helping build his family’s grocery business. He served as vice president of Grade A Market before taking over as president and CEO in the early 1980s.
He is survived by two daughters, Susan Cingari of Boca Raton, Fla., and Karen Cingari of Stamford; his former wife, Christine ”Chris” Cingari of Stamford; brother Salvatore ”Sam” Cingari, Jr., of Stamford; his companion, Marthalou ”Marti” Bruno, of Hampton Bays, N.Y., and many nieces and nephews.