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Fairway Market founder announces retirement

Howard Glickberg, who took his grandfather’s fruit and vegetable stand on 74th and Broadway in New York City and built it into the iconic Fairway Market, with 15 locations across the tri-state New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region, will retire from the company effective immediately.

The announcement was made by Jack Murphy, Fairway Market’s chief executive officer, who added that Glickberg would remain on the company’s board.

“Howie has been indefatigable and indispensable to Fairway’s growth over the past four decades,” Murphy said in press release. “It was his vision to bring together the corner butcher, bakery, cheese monger, fish market and farmer’s market all under one roof, and add in an unparalleled selection of traditional, specialty and organic groceries at the best prices. All this has brought Fairway iconic status and enabled the company to truly earn the moniker ‘Like No Other Market.’”

Glickberg, who began unofficially working at Fairway as a child when he would accompany his father to the original 74th St. and Broadway location, and then officially while a college student, said it was simply time to step down.

“I’ve dedicated the past 40 years of my life to building the world’s greatest food store,” Glickberg, 67, said in the press release. “It’s been my life’s work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the past when I would take a little vacation, I would somehow wind up visiting a supermarket. And if I saw an apple out of place I would fix it. So I’ve never traveled anywhere without Fairway on my mind.”

Glickberg noted that his grandfather, Nathan, would be “amazed” and “proud” that the “small fruit and vegetable stand he opened more than 80 years ago has evolved into a company that is beloved by so many people across the tri-state region.”

Glickberg said he shares Fairway’s success with the “tens of thousands of dedicated employees and the millions of dedicated customers” with whom he has had the pleasure of working and serving the past four decades, and stressed that “without all of them, Fairway would not have become the icon that it has.”

Glickberg began his full-time involvement with Fairway Market in 1974 — six years after he graduated from C.W. Post College and after a stint as a stockbroker and a part-time staff member at a fish market. In 1975, to build the company, he partnered with David Sneddon and Harold Seybert. They began adding specialty items, expanding the space and emphasizing fresh fruit and vegetables that is at the core of all Fairway Markets.

For the next three decades, he and his dedicated team helped to make Fairway Market an icon in New York City and the food store with the highest volume per square foot of any in the country. When he decided to open a store in Harlem, he “ignored anyone who said he was crazy,” believing that high quality merchandise at the best prices is what every consumer wants. Fairway was welcomed into its neighborhood in 1995, where it continues to thrive.

Locations in Plainview, Long Island and Red Hook, Brooklyn, followed over the next several years, before Sterling Investment Partners acquired a controlling interest in the company and infused it with capital in order to facilitate greater expansion. There are now 15 Fairway Markets and three Fairway Wine & Spirits locations.

Glickberg said he is “especially proud that we’ve always been more than just a grocery retailer. We’ve always been — and I know we will always continue to be — a friend, a neighbor, a family.”

He pointed to Fairway’s commitment to supporting charitable organizations in the neighborhoods in which the stores are located, as well as its ongoing programs benefiting police, fire and military personnel.

Glickberg said his proudest moments came in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, when Fairway provided food and meals to first responders for at least a month, and following Hurricane Sandy when, despite its own Red Hook store being destroyed, Fairway donated truckloads of food and prepared thousands of free Thanksgiving and holiday meals for displaced families, and kept all 300 Red Hook Fairway employees on staff by providing free transportation to other Fairway stores.

Glickberg and Fairway Market have earned accolades and awards along the way including Entrepreneur of the Year from Deloitte & Touche, Business of the Year by the Westside Chamber of Commerce, Top 50 Influential Businessman in NYC by Crain’s, Top 50 Retailer by The Gourmet Retailer, Outstanding Specialty Food Retailers from Specialty Food, and Consumer Deal of the Year by M&A Magazine. Fairway was also listed on Inc.’s top 5000 fastest growing private companies for 2008, 2009, and 2010.

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Tough love on loyalty from Dunnhumby founder

At last month’s “Great Loyalty Debate” in London, Clive Humby accused supermarkets — at least those in the U.K. — of “totally forgetting what loyalty is all about.” He described Morrison’s new loyalty scheme as a “waste of time” and defined loyalty as passion, not frequency of trips or share of requirements.

Since Humby is a co-founder of Dunnhumby, and Dunnhumby gets a lot of credit for Kroger’s success, it’s worth considering how his thinking relates to U.S. supermarkets. Here are two ideas I found particularly thought-provoking.

Loyalty is about building relevance, not just relationships. Humby’s point seems to be that building relationships generally means creating the willingness to communicate, while relevance is about delivering something that’s really meaningful to the individual. He also implies that relevance must start with a retailer’s strategy on how they create value for customers before it advances to the personalization of individual offers.

The purpose of loyalty is to say “thank you,” not to create a vehicle to more precisely target offers that may not be relevant to shoppers. This is an important caution. Today many marketing service providers talk more about the power of their targeting algorithms than their ability to support a loyalty program that creates “raving fans.”

How much of the points above apply to U.S. food retailers and suppliers? Beyond Kroger, which retailers are getting loyalty right in your opinion?

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Is Bill Gates buying up farms in Vidalia? Documents and growers link Microsoft founder to recent sales

VIDALIA, GA — It has been rumored and discussed on the streets here for months that the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or Cascade Investment LLC, the Gates’ private trust located in Kirkland, WA, is actively seeking to purchase producing farms in the Vidalia area, renowned for its sweet onions and the center of that industry.

Already, two entities — Coggins Farms in Lake Park, GA, and more recently Stanley Farms and its subsidiaries in Lyons, GA — have been sold and, while the trail is murky, documents and interviews with other Vidalia-area growers link the purchases to Kirkland and seemingly to Gates.Gates-1Vidalia, GA, produces the most famous onion in the world. What growers here want to know is why Bill Gates seemingly wants to be in the sweet onion business — and why he apparently does not want that fact widely known. (Photo by Chip Carter)

The Produce News recently obtained a copy of a letter written by Stanley Farms General Manager Vince Stanley to vendors and suppliers dated Oct. 1 and headlined, “Re: Change of Ownership.” An included W-9 IRS form showed that while the business name of the operation is Stanley Produce Georgia LLC, the owner is the Mt. Hood Administration Trust, with a listed address of a post office box in Kirkland. There is no readily available information on the trust.

Stanley wrote, “On Oct. 1, Stanley Produce Georgia LLC purchased the interests of [Stanley Farms subsidiaries] Vidalia Valley, Manning Farms and Vidalia Onion Farms. Please accept this letter as notice of such a change. The Stanley Family wants to personally let you, our valued customer, know that the entire staff you have come to rely on will 100 percent stay in place and will only add quality folks to better serve you!”

One visitor to the Stanley Farms Facebook page posted two questions about the sale, the second of which read, “Is or has Bill Gates already bought your farm business via Cascade Investments…? Seems he already bought Coggins Farms awhile back.”

Neither post had received a reply as of Oct. 13, when The Produce News‘ queries regarding the sale began; by mid-day Oct. 14, both posts had been removed.

The Produce News contacted the Gates Foundation, Cottonwood AG (based in Naperville, IL and thought to be an agricultural assets management operation for Gates’ interests) and others Oct. 13, but there were no replies to requests for information or interviews.

Derek Yurosek of Cottonwood AG, whose name has been mentioned by several Vidalia growers as a participant in some of the proceedings and whose LinkedIn profile shows a Kirkland address, forwarded The Produce News‘ email seeking information to several other Cottonwood AG email addresses and others from Los Arboles Management LLC, which also has a listed address of a post office box in Kirkland, albeit a different one. His message atop the email simply read, “Please do not respond.” It is unclear whether Yurosek intended to copy The Produce News on that email.

While the Gates connection is still just rumor to some, others claim more intimate knowledge of the dealings.

“I’ve actually met with them,” said one well-placed grower who asked to remain anonymous.

Gates’ agricultural interests are well-known. He has been an active and ongoing crusader in developing countries, helping provide locals with means of improving subsistence farming operations.

What everyone in Vidalia would like to know is why Gates seemingly wants to be in the sweet onion business — and why he apparently does not want that fact widely known if that is indeed the case.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Associated Food Stores founder to retire

Harry Laufer, who founded Associated Food Stores, Hewlett, N.Y., in 1954, said he plans to retire at the end of the month. 

The wholesaler services independent operators in New York City, Upstate New York and several surrounding states. Laufer is 82.

Robert A. Sigel will succeed him as president. Most recently Sigel has been operating executive at AUA Private Equity Partners, of which Associated is a portfolio company. He started his career at Millbrook Distribution Services, a value-added distributor of health, beauty care, general merchandise and specialty food products founded by his father in Worcester, Mass. After Millbrook was sold to McKesson, he became president and CEO of McKesson’s Service Merchandising Division.


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“Associated Food Stores has a long history of providing value added services enabling independent supermarket owners to successfully grow their businesses,” said Sigel in a statement. “I look forward to working with our store owners, suppliers, and associates as we embark on our mission of expanding our services and our store concentration in the New York Metro area and beyond.”

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Associated Food Stores founder to retire

Harry Laufer, who founded Associated Food Stores, Hewlett, N.Y., in 1954, said he plans to retire at the end of the month. 

The wholesaler services independent operators in New York City, Upstate New York and several surrounding states. Laufer is 82.

Robert A. Sigel will succeed him as president. Most recently Sigel has been operating executive at AUA Private Equity Partners, of which Associated is a portfolio company. He started his career at Millbrook Distribution Services, a value-added distributor of health, beauty care, general merchandise and specialty food products founded by his father in Worcester, Mass. After Millbrook was sold to McKesson, he became president and CEO of McKesson’s Service Merchandising Division.


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“Associated Food Stores has a long history of providing value added services enabling independent supermarket owners to successfully grow their businesses,” said Sigel in a statement. “I look forward to working with our store owners, suppliers, and associates as we embark on our mission of expanding our services and our store concentration in the New York Metro area and beyond.”

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General Produce founder Hiram Folds dies

Hiram Folds, founder of Atlanta-based produce distributor General Produce Inc., died Jan. 5 of undisclosed causes. He was 84.

Mr. Folds came up in hard times in Depression-era Milstead, GA. He lost his father at an early age and went to work part time on the Atlanta State Farmers Market, loading trucks and cutting bananas for the Georgia-Tennessee Produce Co. at 50 cents an hour.

After graduating Conyers High School in 1946, Mr. Folds went on to business college, but his formal education was short-lived. FoldsHiram Folds signs a copy of a book written about the company he built, General Produce, in his office on the Atlanta State Farmers Market in 2010. (Photo by Chip Carter)One afternoon he saw his mother struggling with several large piles of laundry and realized she had begun taking in washing to help put him through school. He immediately quit and went to work full-time on the market.

He soon joined the H.C. Davis Banana Co. and by 1958 had moved on to Turner Brothers Produce, another banana company. He and a partner bought out the brothers and relaunched the company as Nu-Banana.

A banana blight in the early 1960s wiped out that business and by 1964 Mr. Folds had signed on with J.A. Morgan as a salesman.

“When I came aboard, this company sold nothing but potatoes, citrus and onions,” Mr. Folds said in a 2010 interview with The Produce News. “And it was bankrupt. I was offered $ 75 a week and took it because I needed a job. I was paid to work two days a week, Wednesdays and Sundays, but I worked seven.”

Roughly a decade later, Mr. Folds bought General Produce and turned it into one of the largest produce distributors in the Southeast, with annual revenues of more than $ 100 million.

“I always told everybody that this is what I wanted to do,” Mr. Folds said in 2010. “One time in grade school, when everybody had to get up and tell what they wanted to be when they grew up, I stood up and said, ‘”I want to be a produce man.’”

In November, the company was named Georgia Family Business of the Year by the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State Cole College of Business and Georgia Trend Magazine.

Mr. Folds is survived by his wife, the former Susie Bush; sons Calvin and Stephen; daughter Jeannie Springfield; and several grandchildren, who work in the family business.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

General Produce founder Hiram Folds dies

Hiram Folds, founder of Atlanta-based produce distributor General Produce Inc., died Jan. 5 of undisclosed causes. He was 84.

Mr. Folds came up in hard times in Depression-era Milstead, GA. He lost his father at an early age and went to work part time on the Atlanta State Farmers Market, loading trucks and cutting bananas for the Georgia-Tennessee Produce Co. at 50 cents an hour.

After graduating Conyers High School in 1946, Mr. Folds went on to business college, but his formal education was short-lived. FoldsHiram Folds signs a copy of a book written about the company he built, General Produce, in his office on the Atlanta State Farmers Market in 2010. (Photo by Chip Carter)One afternoon he saw his mother struggling with several large piles of laundry and realized she had begun taking in washing to help put him through school. He immediately quit and went to work full-time on the market.

He soon joined the H.C. Davis Banana Co. and by 1958 had moved on to Turner Brothers Produce, another banana company. He and a partner bought out the brothers and relaunched the company as Nu-Banana.

A banana blight in the early 1960s wiped out that business and by 1964 Mr. Folds had signed on with J.A. Morgan as a salesman.

“When I came aboard, this company sold nothing but potatoes, citrus and onions,” Mr. Folds said in a 2010 interview with The Produce News. “And it was bankrupt. I was offered $ 75 a week and took it because I needed a job. I was paid to work two days a week, Wednesdays and Sundays, but I worked seven.”

Roughly a decade later, Mr. Folds bought General Produce and turned it into one of the largest produce distributors in the Southeast, with annual revenues of more than $ 100 million.

“I always told everybody that this is what I wanted to do,” Mr. Folds said in 2010. “One time in grade school, when everybody had to get up and tell what they wanted to be when they grew up, I stood up and said, ‘”I want to be a produce man.’”

In November, the company was named Georgia Family Business of the Year by the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State Cole College of Business and Georgia Trend Magazine.

Mr. Folds is survived by his wife, the former Susie Bush; sons Calvin and Stephen; daughter Jeannie Springfield; and several grandchildren, who work in the family business.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Malcolm Tweten, founder of NoKota Packers and former North Dakota State Senator, dies

Malcolm Stuart Tweten, 88, of Fargo, died peacefully Saturday, Sept. 14. His loving wife of 62 years, June, was by his side at the time.

The son of Sidney and Olga (Syverson) Tweten, Mr. Tweten was born April 30, 1925 in rural Reynolds, ND. He graduated from Reynolds High School in 1941. After his father’s death in 1948, Mr. Tweten farmed with his brothers Obed and Kenneth. On June 16, 1951, he married June Gjelsness of Reynolds, and together they raised seven children. twetenMalcolm Stuart TwetenThey moved near Buxton, ND, in 1954, where Mr. Tweten continued farming, raising small grains and potatoes. Mr. Tweten and his wife moved to Fargo in 1994.

In 1979, Mr. Tweten and his brother-in-law, Maurice Gjelsness, founded NoKota Packer, Inc., in Buxton, ND, which specializes in washing, packing and storing table stock potatoes, and still continues as a family business.

In addition to farming and family, Mr. Tweten gave his time to state and local organizations. He served in the North Dakota State Legislature from 1973-88, serving on both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees. He was a State Director of Farm Bureau, member of the Red River Valley Potato Growers’ Association and chairman of the 20th District Republican Party. He was also very involved in Highland Lutheran Church, Cummings, ND, and later at Messiah Lutheran Church in Fargo.

After he retired from farming and politics, Mr. Tweten put his energies toward supporting the mission of Oak Grove Lutheran School, serving as a member of the Oak Grove Board of Regents.

Mr. Tweten and his wife adopted their four oldest children, which started a relationship with Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota that continues to this day.

While always driven and a hard worker, Mr. Tweten would not work on Sundays, instead reserving the day for going to church, reading the paper, taking an afternoon nap and spending time with his family.

Mr. Tweten was a visionary and often was thinking well ahead of his time. His curiosity pushed him to explore innovations in farming, education, technology and health, and he pursued each area with vigor.

Leaving a legacy of hard work, helping others, and always being grateful for God’s blessings, Malcolm’s deep faith was evidenced in his support of the church and his well-worn Bible.

He is survived by his wife June (Gjelsness) Tweten, seven children — Steve (Kelly Eggen), Erik (Carol), Bill (Deb, Liz (Bernard) Sanborn, Margaret (Greg) Asheim, Dan (Annetta) and Jon (Jessica) — 20 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren, sisters Marian Knudsvig and Erlys (Dell) Hedlund, brothers-in-law Ernest Gilbertson and Clark Tufte, and a sister-in-law Carol Tweten

Mr. Tweten was preceded in death by a grandson, Christopher Sanborn, twin brother, Obed, brothers Harold and Kenneth, and sisters Beryl Gilbertson and Harriet Tufte.

Visitation will be at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home in Fargo Sept. 18 from 5-8 p.m., with a prayer service to follow at 8 p.m. Funeral service will be held Thursday, Sept. 19 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Fargo, at 11 a.m., with visitation one hour prior to service. Interment will be at Americus Cemetery near Reynolds, ND. Please visit www.hansonrunsvold.com for the full obituary. 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Kowalski Markets founder dies in accident

James (Jim) Kowalski, co-founder of Kowalski Markets, died in an accident Sept. 5 while on a fishing trip in Ontario. He was 67.

Customers as well as current and former employees spoke of Mr. Kowalski’s kindness, one noting that he was more of a father than a boss.

“Jim and Mary Anne Kowalski have both received the highest honors in the industry,” according to the Kowalski Markets website. “Jim as Minnesota Grocer of the Year and Mary Anne as the National Grocers Association Woman of the Year. But the real accomplishments have come through building lasting relationships with customers and employees.”

Kowalski Markets was founded in 1983, when Mr. Kowalski and his wife took over an underperforming Red Owl store. They purchased a second store in 1986, and Kowalski Markets has now grown to a nine-store chain in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

The chain’s stores are set up to look like a European village and are known for their “signature European market theme.”

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Services Held for for Woods Founder

BUFFALO, Mo. — Funeral services were held Monday for Donald C. Woods, 84, the founder of Woods Supermarkets, who died here Friday.


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After returning from World War II with a Purple Heart, he opened his first store, called Woods & Volner General Store, in 1947 in Long Lane, Mo. He became a customer of Associated Wholesale Grocers a year later, though it took him three months to pay the $ 300 to join the member-owned cooperative “[because] times were tough,” he once recalled. “The only way to pay the bills was to work hard and not spend any money that wasn’t absolutely necessary. That partnership [with AWG] proved to be one of the best investments our company ever made.”

Read more: Woods Expands With Larger Store, New Openings

He sold the original store in 1951 and opened the first Woods Supermarket here — a 2,400-square-foot store that competed with seven other markets in a town of 1,200.

Woods Supermarkets operates nine stores today, with eight in Missouri and one in Kansas.

He is survived by his son, Don Woods Jr.; his daughter-in-law Joan; three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

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Royal Madera Vineyards founder Steve Volpe still going strong at 90

Steve Volpe, founder and owner of Royal Madera Vineyards in Madera, CA, turned 90 on Aug. 20, but entering his 10th decade hasn’t slowed him down much.

After nearly 80 years in the produce industry, Volpe still comes into the office frequently, according to his daughter, Cheryl Cerniglia, who, like many family members of the second- and third-generation, works for the company.

“We are in our harvest season,” she told The Produce News in mid-August, and “he was down here again today.”

SteveGloriaVolpeSteve Volpe with Gloria Volpe, his wife of 59 years.Volpe began his produce career “as a young boy in Cleveland working for his dad, Louis Volpe,” Cerniglia said. “His dad came from Sicily” and opened a produce house on the terminal market called P. Volpe & Sons.

Steve Volpe quit school at a young age to work full time in the family produce business “to help support the family,” she said.

In 1959, Volpe moved to Fresno, CA, and began Steve Volpe Brokerage Co., specializing in grapes but also handling other commodities such as lettuce, melons and citrus.

“He also would go to Coachella Valley” where he formed a partnership with Lionel Steinberg at David Friedman Co., she said. “He also had a vineyard in Coachella Valley” called Travertine Vineyards, and packed grapes in the “Travertine” label.

In the early 1970s, Volpe started Royal Madera Vineyards north of Fresno, growing table grapes and juice grapes, then opened Madera Packing Co. as a partnership, followed by the opening of Madera Raisin Co. in the 1980s, Cerniglia said.

The family no longer owns the raisin company, but “we still have Royal Madera Vineyards” and currently farm Flame, Fantasy, Thompson, Autumn Royal and Red Globe grapes, she said.

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