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Saint Joseph’s University’s Academy of Food Marketing feted Weis Markets at its 49th Citation Dinner held earlier this month at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA. The entire Weis team was in attendance with 600 food industry glitterati representing the Philadelphia and Baltimore markets. Bob Higgins, executive director of the Academy of Food Marketing, emceed his last citation dinner as he has announced his retirement after 40 years in the industry. The cocktail/dinner party was paired with the Weis Markets’ Annual Strategic Alignment Summit, which was held the next morning. This new format seems to be working well for both Saint Joe’s and the honoree. Congratulations to Weis on their achievements.

To-Jo Mushroom’s Tony Summa has been nominated to serve on the American Mushroom Institute’s Penn State Advisory Committee. Tony brings with him almost 20 years of mushroom knowledge and a degree in business economics from Penn State University. He has been To-Jo’s growing coordinator for more than two years and has dedicated almost two decades to the industry. “I love the challenge of growing mushrooms, every day is different. I am honored to serve the industry,” he said. In addition, Tony serves on the AMI Food Safety Task Force. The advisory committee consists of volunteers from the mushroom industry. These volunteers are responsible for keeping up with grower needs and staying current with issues pertaining to pesticide applications. Their primary goal is to recommend educational topics for the spring and fall pesticide meetings which are offered through the Berks and Chester County Penn State Extension offices. “I am privileged to have one of my team members sitting on the AMI’s Penn State Advisory committee. Tony has been an instrumental part of our growing team and will bring insights and leadership to this year’s committee meetings” said To-Jo’s vice-president, Joe D’Amico.

Congratulations to Jay Gordon and Harry Arena and the team at Sales Management Partners (SMP) as they celebrate their move to larger quarters. The new address is 240 New York Drive, Suite 6, Fort Washington, PA 18966. I toured the bright new freshly painted digs which include a nice sized kitchen and plenty of room to install a walk-in freezer and refrigerator.

Congrats, also, to veteran produce executive Paul Kneeland, who is leaving Ahold USA’s Fresh Formats LLC with plans to join Gelson’s Markets in Los Angeles as senior director of produce and floral. Founded in 1951, Gelson’s Markets is owned by global private investment firm TPG. They currently have 25 stores in the Southern California area with plans to expand. Kneeland’s entire retail career has been in produce/ floral. He was with Roche Bros., Wellesley, MA for 26 years, rising to director of produce and floral operations. He then joined Kings Food Markets in 2007 to lead that chain’s produce and floral divisions and left in May 2015 to join Ahold Fresh Formats. Now, he’s heading west. Good luck, my friend!

The circle of life continues as the industry mourns the passing of Earl “the Chief” Redner, who had a good, long life and was respected and admired by everyone in our industry. It was always a pleasure to see him at every store opening and golf outing. He was a gentleman and was one of the old timers who pioneered our industry and who are so greatly missed. The Chief never refused a photo request from me, either. Rest in peace.

Another food industry member has been taken from his family too soon. Anthony (Sam) Cilurso Jr., age 51, passed away suddenly on April 10. Sam was a manager/engineer with Wakefern in Edison, NJ. He is survived by his fiancé Marlene Rennie; his parents, Fay (nee Thorp) and Anthony S. Cilurso Sr.; his daughter Danielle Cilurso and grandson Ryan Anthony Cilurso. He was a past member of the Woodland Fire Co.; Cherry Hill Fire Co. #1 Woodland Fire Station and a past Fire Marshall for Woodland Fire Co., a member and former chief of Brooklawn Fire Co., former chairman of the board of trustees of the Camden County Firemen’s Assn. and a U.S. Air Force veteran. He was serving as OEM coordinator for the town of Brooklawn and also served on the planning/zoning board. The family has requested that donations be made to: The Anthony Sam Cilurso Memorial Fund for Ryan Cilurso, c/o Wells Fargo, 700 Crescent Blvd, Brooklawn, NJ 08030.

Birthday shout outs for the spring has sprung month of April go to: Lou Eni Jr., Dietz & Watson; Ed Herr, Herr Foods; Theresa Lowden, JOH Produce; Charlie Poletti, Acosta; Jack Foti, Rosa Foods; and Ron Benjamin, The Star Companies. Buon compleanno a tutti!


Quote of the month: “April is the month when the green returns to the lawn, the trees – and the Internal Revenue Service.” Evan Esar