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09/07/2023

People on the Move: 22nd Century Group, Cantaloupe & Parker's Kitchen

Mashgin and Rich Products Corp. are among others that made personnel changes and announcements.
Amanda Koprowski
Associate Editor
Amanda Koprowski profile picture

NATIONAL REPORT — Retailers, wholesalers and suppliers in the convenience store industry are only as good as their management teams and employees. In this special roundup, Convenience Store News runs down the most recent executive changes at the top in the industry.

[Read more: People on the Move: Alto-Shaam, Arctic Glacier & Chemular]

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22nd Century Group logo

22nd Century Group Inc.

Biotechnology company 22nd Century Group Inc. appointed the lead of its tobacco business unit, John Miller, as interim CEO. James A. Mish, who has served as CEO since June 2020, will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors. 

"I look forward to continuing to advance our mission of innovative plant technologies tied to tobacco harm reduction and new consumer focused health and wellness products," said Miller. "Our work in the hemp/cannabis business is bringing forward new products sought by consumers while applying the consistent standards, reliable manufacturing processes and national distribution support needed for brands to effectively scale in these growing end markets."

22nd Century also appointed Wall Street veteran Andrew Arno to its board of directors as an independent director. Arno has more than 35 years of experience handling a wide range of corporate and financial matters, including work as an investment banker, strategic advisor and board member to emerging growth companies.

Arno most recently served as vice chairman of the special equities group, a division of Dawson James Securities Inc. and previously held numerous senior roles at investment banking firms. He is currently the chairman of the board of Oncocyte Corp. and also serves on the boards of directors of Smith Micro Software Inc., Independa Inc. and Comhear Inc.

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Ravi Venkatesan headshot
Ravi Venkatesan

Cantaloupe Inc.

Ravi Venkatesan, CEO of Cantaloupe Inc., has been appointed to the National Automatic Merchandising Association's (NAMA) board of directors. The national trade association for convenience services supports the vending, coffee services, micro-market and foodservice sectors. 

Venkatesan will commence a three-year term of service effective as of July 1.

Since becoming CEO of Cantaloupe in October 2022, Venkatesan has helped drive innovation by introducing new products, streamlining the business and building a strategic initiative to broaden the company's offerings globally. Prior to his role as CEO, he served as the company's chief operating officer (COO) and chief technology office. 

Electrolux Professional Group

Foodservice equipment provider Electrolux Professional Group in the Americas has expanded its reach into the Pacific Northwest where it will be carried by Professional Reps.

[Read more: Three Key Dining Trends Emerge Among Young Adults]

The group will not only carry equipment from Electrolux Professional, but from Crathco, Grindmaster and UNIC. Their coverage now includes Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

"Professional Reps has been looking to expand horizons with an innovative foodservice manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest, and we're delighted they chose to work with us,'' said Beth Hammer, vice president of sales, institutional accounts at Electrolux.

Electrolux Professional Group provides food service, beverage and laundry equipment for professional users. The company's solutions and products are manufactured in 12 plants in seven countries and sold in more than 110 countries. 

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Michael Torrescano headshot
Michael Torrescano

Flexserve Inc.

Michael Torrescano joined Flexeserve Inc. as vice president of sales to capitalize on the growing demand for the company's foodservice equipment and expertise.

Torrescano has worked across the entire spectrum of foodservice, from food distribution and culinary, to commercial kitchen equipment and operations. Prior to joining Flexeserve, he advanced quickly through the ranks at Rational, a provider of commercial kitchen equipment and frequent partners with Flexeserve. While there, he was awarded Newcomer of the Year and Salesperson of the Year.

Torrescano joins the team at Flexeserve as it opens the company's U.S. headquarters in Southlake, Texas, less than 10 minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The new facility features a state-of-the-art culinary support center that customers and partners can use alongside Flexeserve's in-house team, as well as digital technologies for remote collaboration.

Mashgin

Steve O'Toole joined self-checkout system developer Mashgin as the company's new head of business development for convenience and fuel retail. He will be responsible for forging strong partnerships with leading fuel retailers and further solidifying Mashgin's role in developing artificial intelligence-powered, touchless self-checkout in the c-store industry.

"Mashgin is the most exciting technology I've seen enter the industry in years," said O'Toole. "It solves a key pain point for c-stores and significantly improves the experience for both customers and staff. I'm thrilled to join this team and look forward to bringing this solution to the many retailers who need it."

O'Toole brings more than two decades of experience to his new role. Before joining Mashgin, he spent four years at NCR Corp., where he led global convenience and fuel retail sales. His previous roles also include time as vice president of business development for Stuzo, a partner at W. Capra Consulting Group, and the lead for retail technology at bp and Puma Energy.

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Thomas Mathewes headshot
Thomas Mathewes

Parker's Kitchen

Thomas Mathewes, senior real estate project manager at Parker's Kitchen, has been named to Charleston Regional Business Journal's 2023 Forty Under 40 list. Mathewes and 39 other accomplished honorees will be featured in the Sept. 18 issue of the Journal and recognized at a premier event in Charleston, S.C., this fall.

[Read more: Parker's Kitchen Earns Workplace Honors in South Carolina]

Mathewes identifies, acquires and develops new store locations throughout coastal South Carolina, and helps Parker's build architecturally appropriate buildings that enhance the communities the company serves.

"Thomas is a Charleston native and a true Palmetto State success story," said Parker's Kitchen founder and CEO Greg Parker. "He's a professional with exceptional character who, at the age of 34, has already contributed significantly to the growth of our company and to the preservation of Charleston's historic architecture."

Prior to joining Parker's Kitchen, Mathewes served as an associate broker with The Peninsula Co. in Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Roadstead Real Estate Advisors in Charleston, specializing in the sale and leasing of historic properties, as well as land and investment sales.

The Charleston Regional Business Journal's annual Forty Under 40 list honors rising stars under 40 years of age who have demonstrated leadership and dedication to Charleston through their professional achievements and community service.

Parkland Corp.

Chair of the board of Parkland Corp., Jim Pantelidis, retired as of July 28. Pantelidis will remain as an advisor to the board with the honorary title of chairman emeritus until the next annual general meeting of shareholders in recognition of his contributions to the company.

For more than two decades, Pantelidis guided the company through its evolution from a small regional player to an international organization operating in 25 countries.  

Parkland has subsequently appointed Steven Richardson as chair. He joined the board in 2017 and currently serves on the human resources and compensation committee, and is the chair of the audit committee. He has more than 30 years of experience in the financial and retail sectors and held senior financial positions at Hudson's Bay Company, including chief financial officer (CFO). Richardson also previously held senior executive positions with Wells Fargo Financial Canada and Beneficial Canada.

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Dave Simonetti headshot
Dave Simonetti

The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association

The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association welcomed David Simonetti, senior director of store operations and business operations for Wawa Inc., to its board of directors.  

In his current role at Wawa, Simonetti is responsible for the Pennsylvania and New Jersey markets, and store operations business support services. He joined Wawa in 2014 after spending the previous nine years with Five Guys Enterprise as the regional director for Northeast operations in the United States and Canada. While there, he played an integral role in building the brand and growing the company from 40 to nearly 1,200 locations.

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Steve Black headshot
Steve Black

PFSBrands

Steve Black joined PFSbrands as the company's first CFO, coming on board the PFSbrands senior leadership team in conjunction with the company's 25th anniversary.

In the newly created role, Black will be responsible for several key areas, including customer success, retail growth, retail operations, marketing and technology. He will also be a featured speaker and coach for GRITT Business Coaching, a division of PFSbrands.

"Our unique business model demands someone with not only the right skills but also the right cultural mindset [in the COO role]," said Shawn Burcham, founder and CEO of PFSbrands. "We are committed to the success of our wholesalers and retailers, so we feel extremely blessed to hire someone who has spent their entire career enhancing retailer profitability."

Black spent 45 years in the retail grocery industry, including in management and C-level executive positions. He has worked for major brands such as Lucky's Farmers Markets and Sprouts Farmers Markets, including a stint as the president and COO for Rouses Markets, a southern-based supermarket chain. He is also the author of "The 5 Rules," a guide that showcases an emphasis on people, culture and business success.

Rich Products Corp.

Family-owned food company Rich Products Corp. hired industry veteran Tracey Ziener as the company's new executive vice president and chief research and development (R&D), food safety quality assurance (FSQA) officer. 

[Read more: Convenience Store News Names Winners of 2023 Best New Products Awards]

Ziener has more than 28 years of experience leading business growth and product quality assurance programs for major food brands, and specializes in the development and delivery of new products, packaging and technology programs through innovation and FSQA processes.

Ziener joins Rich's after a long career at Mars Inc., where she most recently served as vice president of research and development, global chocolate business. During her tenure, she developed expertise across a variety of industries, including in confectionary, gum, pet care and food, and led new product development for popular brands like M&M's, Milky Way and Pedigree.