The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association is pleased to share that three new members are joining its Board of Directors. PFMA welcomes Jess Reese, VP of Sales, Small Format and Value for UTZ Snacks; Tim Murray, Manager, Industry Engagement for Altria Group Distribution Company; and Keith Martin, Director of Business Development, Executive Director of Business Development for Associated Grocers.
“In welcoming these respected and active members of the food retail industry to the board, they bring years of experience and knowledge that complement our current outstanding PFMA Board of Directors,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “We look forward to benefitting from their perspectives and expertise.”
Jess Reese is VP of Sales, Small Format/Specialty/Discount Channels for Utz Quality Foods, based in Hanover, PA. Jess has a diverse background in Revenue Management and Sales, with experience across multiple channels, ERP implementation, Price and Promotion strategy, change management, and team development. She currently serves as Chair of the Utz Women’s Mentoring Group, guiding the first diversity and inclusion group within Utz. She has also served on the board of the American Wholesale Marketers Association, San Antonio Food Bank, and the Executive Finance Chair of Network of Executive Women Northwest Arkansas.
Jess graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University and started her 20+ year career in food with ConAgra Foods and Daymon Worldwide before joining Utz in 2017. She resides in Lancaster, PA, with her husband and youngest daughter, who will be heading to Texas A&M University in August 2023.
Tim Murray is the manager of industry engagement for Altria Group Distribution Company. A native Floridian, Tim began his career with Philip Morris USA in 1998 as a Territory Sales Manager in Deerfield Beach, FL. Over the past 25 years, Tim has served in a variety of roles within the Altria family of companies, including sales, operations, and analytics. In his current role, Tim is part of a team responsible for developing advocacy solutions in support of Altria Client Services’ Government Affairs department throughout the Eastern United States region. This work further supports the development and execution of engagement systems that enhance alignment with the states, the industry, and Altria Group Distribution Company.
Tim is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University and resides in Longwood, FL, with his wife, Ali, and two children, Brooke (22) and Nick (20).
Keith Martin is the Director of Business Development and Executive Director of Business Development for Associated Wholesale Grocers. He has a long history in wholesale operations, private label, loss prevention, and business development. Martin also serves on the Virginia Retail Merchants Association board for the past ten years and is a Board Member of Northwest NC Food Bank.
Martin is a graduate of Surry Community College with an Associate of Arts and Associate of Science. He is a former scoutmaster and proud parent of an Eagle Scout. He has four children and two grandchildren.
PFMA is led by a 37-member Board of Directors, including retail and associate members. This volunteer group shapes the association's agenda. Members are elected to unlimited three-year terms.
Pennsylvania food and beverage industry leaders gathered at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square during a two-day Annual Conference hosted by the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) earlier this week.
“Our Annual Conference provides valuable time for us to connect with our members and sponsors to discuss what is happening in the food and beverage industries,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “These events always provide attendees with valuable insight from the most innovative leaders in the industry. This year we also had guest speakers from the WIC program and Auditor General Tim DeFoor, who had valuable information to share on state and federal issues affecting our industry.”
Prior to the conference kickoff, the PFMA Board of Directors approved new board members. Newly added members of the board include Jason Bassett, Director of Government Affairs for Sheetz, Tom Gumkowski, Vice President of Business Development for Tripifoods, Inc., Jess Reese, VP of Sales, Small Format and Value for UTZ Snacks and Tim Murray, Manager, Industry Engagement for Altria Group Distribution Company.
Baloga shared all the great work that the association has been able to accomplish over the past few months since the last board meeting during the Fall Legislative Meeting and thanked everyone for their board service.
The conference commenced with a mini-trade show where 12 vendors showcased their products and had lively conversations with association members and guests. Vendors included Dri Mark Products, Facility Cleaning Solutions, Federated Insurance, Healthy Brand Oil, Westfield Egg Farm, Poly Craft, Portogallo Peppers, PWI/Tank Installers, The Webber/Smith Group, TripiFoods, Watchfire Signs, and World Kinect Energy.
The association welcomed attendees to a cocktail hour and dinner Tuesday evening. During dinner, PFMA presented the 2023 Food Industry Trailblazer Award to Andrea Karns, vice president of Marketing and Sales for Karns Quality Foods. Association members also honored the 2022 Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship awardees with a special message from Governor Tom Ridge.
An excerpt from Governor Tom Ridge's letter read, “Students, you stood out among hundreds of applicants. Congratulations on being selected by our panel of judges. You represent some of our brightest young minds, and I am proud to award you this scholarship. Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning, and I hope your candle continues to burn and your quest for knowledge never ends. Pennsylvania and our nation need bright minds like yours.”
Wednesday opened with a panel presentation from Federal and State officials updating the association on WIC initiatives and changes. Panelists featured officials from Supplemental Food Programs at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services, PA WIC Programs, and the Bureau of WIC.
The second session of the conference covered industry trends and included leaders from Square One Markets, Inc., Karns Quality Foods, and Flashfood.
In the final session, we uncovered the right approach to attracting and retaining customers with leaders from UNFI, Pa Dairymen’s Association, and Seltzer’s Smokehouse Meats.
To conclude PFMA’s 2023 Annual Conference, we welcomed Tim DeFoor, Pennsylvania Auditor General, for a lunch and learn. Tim shared several special initiatives he is working on and fielded questions from association members.
PFMA is grateful to all the attendees, presenters, and vendors who made the conference possible. A special thank you to the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square for their hospitality.
The PFMA 2023 Fall Legislative Conference is scheduled for October 10 and 11 at the Hershey Country Club. Details are forthcoming.
Erica Koup Logsdon, Director of Communications and Media Relations