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People on the Move: Colonial Group Inc., CDA & Delek US Holdings

Global Partners, Indiana Food & Fuel Association and Just Born, among others, also made personnel changes and announcements.

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.

Colonial Group 2023 Soaring Eagle Award Winner

Colonial Group Inc.

Colonial Group Inc. awarded Cory VanVoorhis its second annual Robert H. Demere, Jr. Soaring Eagle Award. 

The award was named in honor of the company chairman, Robert H. Demere, Jr., who also had served as president and CEO from 1986 to 2021. The award was first developed in 2021 to commemorate the company's centennial celebration, with employees participating in the nomination and voting process.

VanVoorhis started working for the company in February 2014 as a field technician for Enmarket and was promoted to retail IT manager in 2018.

The award's 2022 recipient was revealed at the annual company party held at the Marriott Savannah Riverfront in Savannah, Ga., on Jan. 21. Demere presented the award.

"Cory truly embodies the Colonial motto that there is no limit to what a person can achieve if they don't mind who gets credit," said Demere. "He truly leads by example and is always one of the first to volunteer to pitch in. Cory is highly respected by not only his team but also by his peers, supervisors and everyone he interacts with across all divisions."

In addition to operating diversified energy and port-related companies, Colonial Group's retail arm, Enmarket, operates 129 convenience stores in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Mike Auger Headshot

Convenience Distribution Association 

The Convenience Distribution Association (CDA) inducted two new members into its Hall of Fame: Reynolds' Mike Auger and Hardec's Charlie Casper. The new members were announced Feb. 28 at the Convenience Distribution Marketplace in The Woodlands, Texas.

CDA's Hall of Fame award is presented to the industry's most valued participants, those whose careers are highlighted by continual accomplishments on the industry's behalf and who have demonstrated unquestionable dedication to CDA's highest values.

Auger entered the industry while still in high school, working in the cigarette and return goods department for Pine State Trading in Gardiner, Maine, which merged with Reynolds in 2004. Auger ran Reynolds' internal sales team until 2014, when he became president of RAI Trade Marketing Services. He operated with an emphasis on the importance of networking with the wholesale community and cultivated long-standing, authentic relationships with many in the industry.

Charlie Casper Headshot

Casper has been a fixture in the convenience industry for nearly three decades. Prior to his semi-retirement from Hardec's and parent company Hartlage Management Co., his background was diverse. After Casper was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966, he spent 12 years with GE in Louisville, Ky., before beginning a 15-year career at Crucible Steel. He then joined Hartlage Management in 1994 and quickly became a trusted friend and valuable resource for many in the industry, according to CDA.

In addition to participating annually in CDA's Day on the Hill event and leading the Government Affairs Committee, Casper served as CDA chair in 2019 and received CDA's Dean of the Industry award in 2012. He also served on the Executive Committee, Finance and Audit Committee, Emerging Products Task Force and the Past Chair’s Advisory Council.

At age 75, Casper still runs Hartlage’s property business, which includes a large portfolio of warehouses and offices.

Hannah Rice headshot

The CDA also recently added Hannah Rice to its staff as director of programs and communications. She will be responsible for providing the vision and execution of education, research and awards programs for CDA, and will serve as the staff liaison for the Education and Research Committee.

Rice brings with her nearly a decade of experience, including seven years working for Marathon Petroleum and Speedway LC. While there, she managed programs and communications, including the supply chain's intern recruiting program, the supplier diversity program, Supplier Recognition Awards, and internal communication plans and engagement strategies. At Speedway, Rice served as a district manager of 14 locations and would go on to serve as the company's communications supervisor, developing communication strategies for 30,000-plus employees.

Delek US Holdings Inc.

Patrick Reilly joined Delek as executive vice president and chief commercial officer. He will work closely with Delek's management team to lead the company's strategies to achieve its short- and long-term objectives.

Reilly brings with him more than 20 years of energy oil refining and trading experience, with deep sector knowledge and a track record of delivering transformative change management and margin growth for mid-size and large established companies.

Reilly joins Delek from Motiva (Aramco), where he served as vice president of trading — crude, clean products and feedstocks. Previously, he served as a regional head of trading for Gunvor, as well as in various positions at Andeavor (Tesoro) and BP. He earned a master's degree in finance and business economics from the USC Marshall School of Business and a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware.

Global Partners LP

Independent gas station and convenience store operator Global Partners LP appointed Clare McGrory to the board of directors of its general partner, Global GP LLC, effective March 1.

McGrory is a partner, chief financial officer (CFO) and chief compliance officer at Atairos, a $6 billion independent strategic investment firm focused on backing growth-oriented businesses across a wide range of industries. McGrory joined Atairos after serving as the CFO, executive vice president and treasurer of Sunoco LP.

The appointment of McGrory increases the number of directors to seven, of which five are independent.

Cathy Melton Headshot

Indiana Food & Fuel Association 

The Indiana Food & Fuel Association (IFFA) appointed Cathy Melton as its new executive director, which will follow the previously announced retirement of Scot Imus in May.  

Melton has been with the IFFA since 2013, serving as the director of external relations for the association. As executive director of the IFFA, she will be responsible for maximizing the organization's operations and financial goals and ensuring the association serves the needs and interests of the IFFA membership. 

Before joining the IFFA, Melton worked for the Indiana Soybean Alliance/Indiana Corn Marketing Council. 

The IFFA also named its longtime lobbyist, Matt Norris, to an expanded role as public policy counsel, where he will be responsible for government and media relations. Norris will assume his new responsibilities while remaining of counsel for Krieg DeVault.

Before joining Krieg DeVault, Norris worked at Taft Stettinius & Hollister as counsel member in the Government Relations Group and served as vice president of the state's largest independent governmental affairs firm.

Just Born's Russ Born speaking at podium

Just Born Quality Confections

Just Born Quality Confections President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) David Yale retired from Bethlehem, Pa.-based company on March 31.

Yale began working for Just Born in 2011. Among his accomplishments, he worked to help transform Peeps into an American cultural icon at Easter, drove Mike and Ike growth through the introduction of the Mega Mix platform, and helped revitalize Goldenberg's Peanut Chews by going back to its Philadelphia roots. 

He also helped the company navigate the unchartered waters of an unprecedented pandemic, demonstrating the company's commitment to associate health and safety, and served on the boards of the National Confectioners Association and Valley Youth House.

"David Yale's retirement, in our 100th year, comes at a time when we are on sound financial footing, our iconic brands are healthy, and leadership is in the capable hands of the next generation of the Shaffer/Jett Family, in tandem with our talented executive team and board of directors," said David Shaffer, Just Born chairman of the board and co-CEO.

National Confectioners Association

The National Confectioners Association (NCA) named Tony Jacobs, president of Bazooka Candy Brands, to the role of chair of the NCA board of trustees for a two-year term. Jacobs most recently served as vice chair and will take over for departing chair Barry Rosenbaum, president of Nassau Candy Distributors.

Jacobs served as the association's political action committee chair and was instrumental in building an effective and successful CandyPAC, according to NCA. Prior to leading Bazooka Candy Brands, Jacobs worked for more than a decade in marketing roles at Nabisco, Unilever and Dr Pepper Snapple Group. 

NCA 2023 Hall of Fame Inductees

National Confectionery Sales Association

The National Confectionery Sales Association (NCSA) announced its 2023 class for the Candy Hall of Fame. The new class will be formally inducted at a ceremony held during the association's annual meeting in October in Tampa, Fla.

The inductees represent several disciplines in the confectionery industry, from sales and marketing to engineering, research and development professionals, as well as brokers, distributors, retail buyers and category managers and suppliers. 

The NCSA Candy Hall of Fame Class of 2023 inductees are:

  • Brad Carlin, C.A. Carlin
  • Tony Frankenberger, McLane Co.
  • Adolph Goelitz, Goelitz Confectionery Co. (now Jelly Belly Candy Co.)
  • Mitchell Goetze, Goetze's Candy Co. Inc.
  • Susan Grassey, Harris Teeter Supermarkets
  • Patrice Guy, The Walt Disney Co.
  • Shawn Houser-Fedor, The Hershey Co.
  • Rose Potts, Blommer Chocolate Co.
  • Arne Sandberg, PPC Prototype Packaging 
  • David Shaffer, Just Born Inc.
  • Brian Sisitzky, L.H. Sisitzky Sales Inc.

The Candy Hall of Fame has recognized lifetime career achievements in the confectionery industry since 1971, with members hailing from all disciplines within the confectionery industry. Inductees must have at least 20 years of service to the industry — or, if a buyer, must have at least 10 years of experience — and must be 50 years of age at the time of nomination.

Prairie Farm's Matt McClelland and Matt Mullins

Prairie Farms Dairy 

Dairy cooperative Prairie Farms Dairy celebrated the 42-year career of industry executive Ed Mullins, who retired last December. This followed his decision in late 2021 to step down as CEO/executive vice president to assume a new role as senior executive officer in 2022.

Hundreds of people — including Prairie Farms' board members, present and past coworkers, industry professionals and friends — gathered in Edwardsville, Ill., to honor Mullins and share well-wishes for his retirement.

As part of the celebration of Mullins' career and legacy, a new wall of honors was unveiled at Prairie Farms' corporate office, along with plans to transform a conference room into the Edward L. Mullins Conference Center.

Mullins' career with Prairie Farms started in 1980. He held numerous leadership positions before serving as CEO and executive vice president from 2006-2021. He was only the fourth CEO since the company's founding in 1938. 

S. Abraham & Sons Inc.

S. Abraham & Sons (SAS), a subsidiary of Imperial Trading Co., announced two major executive changes: George Bennett has been promoted to president, while Jim Leonard will be retiring from his role as COO.

Bennett began his career with SAS in 2010 as vice president of sales before a promotion to vice president of sales and marketing in 2014, then chief marketing officer in 2019. Prior to joining SAS, he worked for Anheuser-Busch for 13 years.

Leonard began his 35-year career with SAS in 1988, working with the Abraham Seniors in all facets of the company, including as vice president of administration and CFO. In 2019, he was promoted to COO in order to lead SAS to continued growth and expansion.

Headshots from Vollrath Co.

The Vollrath Co.  

Erik Lampe joined foodservices manufacturer The Vollrath Co. as president in March and will be taking over as CEO in June. He replaced retiring President and CEO Paul Bartelt, who successfully navigated global supply chain challenges and led the organization for more than 15 years.

Lampe comes to Vollrath with a background in general management, strategic growth, innovation and operational performance for industrial companies. He spent the majority of his career working for Oshkosh Corp. and McKinsey & Co., where he served in a variety of strategic leadership roles. For the last year, he worked as a principal for Comvest Partners' Operating Advisory Group, where he served as a leader for the firm's privately held companies, guiding them through the recent dynamic environment.

After retirement, Bartelt will remain on the Vollrath board for the foreseeable future.

In other executive changes, Vice President of Finance and CFO Steve Heun also decided to step down after 15 years with the company. Tina Kreidler, the current controller and director of finance at Vollrath, will be promoted to vice president of finance and will work closely with Heun until his departure in the fall.

Meanwhile Chris Kelm will step into the role of leading the North American sales organization. He replaces Dennis Park, Vollrath's vice president of sales, who is retiring after serving the company and the industry for over 35 years.

In his new position, Kelm will provide continuity in leadership for the North American sales organization and manage the distribution strategy. He will be responsible for directing, planning and developing sales activities and establishing policies and objectives of the sales function to support the strategic objectives of the organization.

Lenny Comma Headshot

The Wills Group

Family-owned retailer Wills Group appointed Lenny Comma to its board of directors as of Jan. 1.

Comma brings to the board more than 30 years of experience across foodservice and retail fuels marketing. He spent more than 19 years with Jack in the Box Inc., where he led the effort to transform the company's business model while also working to align operations in support of the company's brand strategy. Prior to Jack in the Box, Comma worked with ExxonMobil across the company's retail fuels and convenience store lines of business.

Concurrently, Edward T. Lewis retired from the board after more than 30 years of contributions.

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