Soup To Nutz

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So here we are in April, oops, I mean February, with the warm weather giving us hope for an early Spring, even though Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. Let’s hope he’s wrong and we can chalk up the winter of 2017 as being on the mild side. This is not thrilling the retailers as I am sure they would love a little “fake news” about a blizzard coming our way to get consumers in a frenzy and into the markets! Don’t forget to move your clocks forward one hour on March 11. Spring is just around the corner.

Acme Markets keeps rolling along upgrading many of the long existing locations in the Delaware Valley. On January 27 the retailer celebrated the grand re-opening of its Audubon, NJ store. Expanded varieties of fresh products, top-quality meats and seafood, and a large selection of natural, gluten free, organic, and local products now await customers. The new, more modern décor will provide customers with a warm, inviting atmosphere that highlights fresh departments and enhanced specialty shops. “Our store celebrates our customers and we are thrilled to offer them such a fantastic new shopping experience,” said Dan Croce, president of Acme. “From our product selection to the design and layout of the store, our goal was to tailor this store for our neighbors in Audubon. We’ve created a fresh, new feel to the shopping experience with greater selections, convenience, and variety. We look forward to continuing to bring the best of ACME to the residents of Audubon for many years to come.” Acme leadership and local officials joined store director, Doug North at the ceremony where over $2,000 was donated to local community organizations. Acme also donated its signature park bench made from recycled plastic bags to the Audubon Recreation Center. In addition, a check was given to Philabundance. Representing Philabundance was Mike McManamin who told the crowd that in 2016, 26,000 pounds of food was donated to Philabundance from the Audubon store as part of the Grocers Against Hunger program. Acme is their largest contributing retailer with more than 70 Acme stores giving over 3.6 million pounds of food per year.

“Sales! Sales! Sales! Boom!” This is how Croce begins each Acme meeting and if the response isn’t loud enough, it will be repeated until it is. February 16 was no different as he addressed the trade at the Mid-Atlantic Food Trades Organization’s (MAFTO) winter retailer dinner. More than 250 trade notables joined many members of the Acme team, including Jim Perkins (Albertsons), Kim Gray, Bill Crosby, Donovan Ford, Sherry Caldwell, the sales management team, a few district managers and specialists as Dan gave out some statistics in advance of the retailer’s upcoming vendor partner meeting which will be held February 28 in the Pennsville, NJ store and the annual shore meeting the following week. There are more than 276,000 Albertsons employees nationwide working in 2,335 stores under 19 banners with 15 divisions. Locally, we have 178 Acmes with 20,000 associates. Dan told the assembled guests that they intend to have three more stores by the end of 2017. One will be in Yonkers, NY and the other two will be in Philly. Where, you ask? One will be at Front and Snyder in South Philly and, at 54,000 square feet, will be a complete renovation. The other is what Dan labeled as “top secret.” There are a few options, but my guess is 40th Street on Penn’s campus, which is currently occupied by a Fresh Grocer. In addition, 16 more Frosted Mugs and 9 Starbucks will be coming. Remodels will keep up at the pace that they were at in 2017 with 13 new and 10 legacy stores getting facelifts. All of these stats are good to know, but at the base of it all is what makes Acme tick: the de-centralized model, core leadership and, lastly, Dan reminded the group that everything starts and stops with the ever loyal Ac-a-me customer. We look forward to seeing how 2017 unfolds for this iconic Philadelphia chain.

Keep America Beautiful recently honored Giant/Carlisle and Martin’s with its 2016 National Community Improvement Award for Waste Reduction and Recycling. Giant/Martin’s Bags to Benches program was an integral part of Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania. Keep America Beautiful’s National Awards program recognizes the best of the best among the Keep America Beautiful network of more than 620 state and community-based affiliates, leading corporate partners and individual volunteers across the country who have committed to delivering cleaner, greener and more beautiful communities. “On behalf of all of our associates and customers, I want to thank Keep America Beautiful for this great honor,” said Tom Lenkevich, Giant/Carlisle president. “We’re especially excited to partner with our customers who have participated in our Bags to Benches program by recycling their plastic bags at all of our locations. Every bag we recycle together won’t end up in a landfill.” It takes approximately 10,000 plastic bags to make one park bench. Since 1997, nearly 15 million plastic bags have been turned into more than 1,700 benches which Giant/Martin’s has donated to local community fire departments, churches, schools, townships, parks and playgrounds. “We’re thrilled that our loyal friends and dedicated partners at Giant/Martin’s work was recognized with a Keep America Beautiful National Award,” said Shannon Reiter, president of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. These recycling programs have included better bagging efforts and encouraging customers to use reusable bags each and every time they shop. The result is the elimination of one billion grocery bags from the environment over the past five years. Is your trunk overflowing with reusable shopping bags yet?

The New Jersey Food Council will hold its annual Night of Distinction reception March 23 at The Palace at Somerset Park, Somerset, NJ. The event, with its powerful slate of honorees, draws morethan 500 guests including prominent food industry executives.

The Wawa Foundation paired up with a cause that’s close to my heart, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for the Wawa Sneaker Sale/Scan Campaign & Coin Collection Campaign for the JDRF One Walk (walk.jdrf.org). The campaign ran from September 12 to October 30, 2016. The final results are in and while the entire JDRF campaign raised $823,138 the Philadelphia Chapter received over $269,000! The JDRF newsletter lauded the continued partnership with Wawa and their unwavering commitment to fund JDRF research and help JDRF turn Type One into Type None. The Wawa Foundation was begun by the Wood Family about 50 years ago and focuses its

giving in three areas: health, hunger and heroes. In addition to JDRF, they give to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals; Philabundance; Check Out Hunger, the American Red Cross and the USO. Good work!

The board of directors of T. M. Kovacevich-Philadelphia, Inc. recently announced the appointment of Thomas M. Kovacevich, aka “Tommy K.”, as president and chief operating officer. Former president George C. Manos will continue on as chairman of the board and chief executive officer. “Tom’s contributions have been invaluable and our shared vision for the future along with his experience and management skills will make him an outstanding president and COO,” said Manos. Tom is the third generation of his family to be actively involved in the produce business. Since his graduation from Gettysburg College in 1986, Tom has been employed at TMK-Philadelphia in various marketing and management positions, most recently as general manager. He will continue to be instrumental in the development of long-range plans for TMK-Philadelphia. Founded in 1984, T.M. Kovacevich-Philadelphia, Inc.’s mission is to represent the world’s finest growers and offer buyers the best wholesale produce. Focused on customer satisfaction, TMK takes pride in the simple truth of listening to everyone along the supply chain and delivering on promises. Known for its colorful and bountiful fruit and vegetable displays in the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM), TMK-Philadelphia has nine units and is open 24 hours a day, from Sunday morning through Friday afternoon, and Saturdays by appointment. Stop by and visit; it’s a real treat. Congrats, my friend. Well deserved!

Taking a walk into the sunset with a slight detour is industry veteran Gary Larkin, who retired JOH at the end of January only to move next door and return to his roots at Paul Nester & Son brokers with his long-time associate Jan Gabriel. Gary started in the food business with James O. Brown brokerage in Pittston as a retail rep (that’s when I first met him) and then as an account rep calling on the independents in the Central PA market. When Paul Nester broke away from Brown in 1986, Gary went along with him, Jan and Paul Jr. After Paul Sr. passed, Jan and Gary formed Mid Atlantic Impact which was purchased by JOH when Ahold centralized buying to Carlisle. Now he’s back with his pal and partner and they are looking forward to a few more orders, a couple of cocktails and eventually, a quiet walk into the sunset. Have fun!

The circle of life continues as we report the deaths of two who have been taken from their loved ones too soon. Gregory F. Frazier, 38, passed away on February 3 after a lengthy battle with seizures. Greg was the son of Mary and Frank Frazier, retired, Cargill. He was a 1996 graduate of Conwell- Egan High School and an electrician with Local 98. Greg loved the Pocono Mountains, fishing, ice hockey and was an avid Philadelphia Flyers fan. His wife and children were his whole world. In addition to his parents, Greg is survived by his wife Heather, children Trevor and Kiersten, his sister Maryann Foley (Mike), sister-in-law, mother-in-law, nieces, nephews and many friends. The family requests donations be made to the Frazier Children’s Fund, First National Bank & Trust of Newtown, 40 South State Street P.O. Box 158 Newtown, PA 18940-9965. Philip Mancuso, a regional manager for Cento Foods, passed way suddenly on January 19 at the age of 48. He was the beloved husband of Patricia (nee Dragan) and loving father of Michaella and Gabriella. Phil is also survived by his mother Angela, two sisters, 13 nieces and nephews and three great-nieces and nephews. The family requests donations be made to the Michaella and Gabriella Mancuso College Trust Fund in care of Denise Tretter, 429 Colfax Road, Havertown, PA 19083. Rest in peace.

Birthday shout outs for the love-ly month of February go to: Guy Giordano, Vincent Giordano Corp.; Reggie Sanders, Johanna Foods; Sandra Sage, Clemens Food Group; Neil Brassell, Raymundo’s; BJ Zellers, TKE Communications; Bill Schlosky, Utz; Gary Canuso, Turkey Hill; my cohort in sales and shenanigans here at FTN, Kevin Gallagher; and my daughter, Rosalie Marfuggi. Buon compleanno a tutti!