Metro Beat

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It’s hard to believe we’re already looking to turn the page on February of this new year, but here we are with visions of spring dancing in our heads and trying to get away from old man winter. I want to thank the many of you who have reached out to me to touch base and wish me well in my new endeavors. It has been overwhelming to a certain extent, but also very refreshing to realize that 26 years of representing the local trade press and treating everyone respectfully and honestly is coming back in spades. Thank you all.

One of the first industry dinner/fundraisers of the new year is turning into a real throwback type of event in a good way. the Vision for a Better Future dinner sponsored by the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) is a throwback in the sense that all customers come together to support a great cause. It’s not one of those many “customer centric” types of events that seem to pervade the industry. For those of you unfamiliar with the FFB, it is a national nonprofit that drives research to work toward preventions, treatments and cures for retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases that affect more than 10 million Americans. In its 40 year history, FFB has raised more than $425 million as the leading non-governmental funder of retinal research. Breakthrough Foundation-funded studies using gene therapy have restored significant vision in children and young adults who were previously blind, paving the way for using this method to treat a wide variety of retinal degenerative diseases, and finding a cure is in sight. With a network of 50 chapters, the Foundation also provides disease information and low vision resources to affected individuals and their families. The Metro NY chapter threw its second annual fundraising dinner in January honoring Dean Janeway Jr., CEO of Key Food Stores. It was a terrifically run and well attended event that brought together a multitude of different customers from around the area. In addition to helping raise monies and awareness for FFB, it was a great networking evening that hopefully more food industry personnel will get involved with in the next go around….and speaking of Key Food Stores, two new units came under the big co-operative’s auspices when Rolando Abreu and his brothers and family members converted two of their stores to the new Key Fresh & Natural banner. The stores are both in Queens – inJamaica andSpringfieldGardens – and now bring the total number of Key Food stores up to 131. Dean Janeway tells us that there are more new stores in the pipeline this year for the Staten Island based company, including 14 more Key Foods this year inNew Jersey andStaten Island as well as the five boroughs. As we learn of the openings we will pass them along.

Best wishes and good luck to big guy, and good guy, John Depuy, formerly of Advantage Sales & Marketing. John has branched out on his own forming a sales and marketing agency, Skellig Sales & Marketing, which will bring John’s 23 years of industry experience to the table for any interested clients. You can reach him at 201-523-9117 or Good luck, John.

And along the lines of personnel moves in the brokerage world, Bob Weinmann has joined the team at RDD Associates in Totowa, NJ. Bob will be bringing his astute marketing and strategic planning acumen to Bob Cignarella’s gang and should really assist the big perishable brokers efforts in the market. Many of you probably know Bob from his 35 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods and related supermarket retailing industries (and his signature bowties)

Word reached us that Ken Downing, bakery director at Kings Food Markets and current president of the Retail Bakers Association (RBA), can get a side gig as an after-dinner or featured speaker at conventions. We hear that he really “killed it” with his commencement address for the recent graduating class at the RBA. Well done, Ken.

Kudos to Radame Perez, C-Town owner in the Bronx, for his and his family’s efforts in distributing hundreds of coats and offering free health care clinics for his neighborhood residents at their store in theBelmont section of theBronx. Radame expressed the importance of such an event during these tough economic times and extreme winter climates. The Perez’s C-Town supermarket has been an active neighborhood store in the heart of theBelmont section of theBronx and has proudly served the residents of “Little Italy” for over 30 years.

Congratulations to Ed Tobin of Pepsico Beverages Co. and his wife Charlene on becoming proud grandparents for the third time with the addition of Edward Benjamin Hazelton. The little guy was born to Ed’s daughter Chrissy and her husband Chris on January 18 and everyone is doing well.

We were also saddened to learn of two industry executives who passed away in the last month. Kevin Murphy, founder of Baldor Specialty Foods, passed away on January 31 at the age of 58. He started in the industry working at Balducci’s in NYC and eventually founded the wholesale division of Balducci’s called Baldor. He grew the company from that small start to where it is today, operating three warehouses (Bronx,Boston andWashingtonDC), with more than 800 employees and 200 delivery trucks.

Also we learned that long time local food broker and all around good guy, Ed Feeney passed away suddenly on January 11 at the age of 73. Ed had founded and run Feeney Associates of Hackettstown, NJ, ultimately bringing some of his children – Patrick, Pam and Michael – into the business. He is also survived by two other children Brian and Linda and his significant other Linda Freeman. We’ll miss his smile and jokes. The family requests that any donations in his memory be made to the Hackettstown Colonial Musketeers Fife & Drum Corps at P.O. Box 4 in Hackettstown, NJ 07840.

Again many thanks to all of you for your kind words of support and I look forward to seeing more and more of you as the shows, dinners and conferences pick up and in the meantime please feel free to drop me a line or give me a call at 201-250-2217 or See you next month!