The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association kicks off the fourth season of its Shelf Confidence podcast this week, sharing member interviews that focus on trends and innovations in food and beverage retail.
“This industry is ripe for innovation. Our members are constantly creating new ways to meet customer needs and improve the food retail landscape,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “The podcast shares how our members are influencing the industry and driving it forward.”
The first two episodes feature new members and young entrepreneurs breaking the mold with their new business models.
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Shelf Confidence welcomes new associate member Saint Rocco’s Treats, a small batch, craft dog treat company out of Bucks County. Brothers Kaleb and Kolby Rush explain how their pandemic project developed into a full-fledged business.
Sharing Excess founder Evan Ehlers joins Shelf Confidence for its second episode on Feb. 8. The organization has quickly grown to the largest food rescue organization in Philadelphia thanks to Ehlers’s unique process and partnerships.
Mid-February, Becky Smith will share how Poly Craft Industries stands out from the competition in the flexible packaging market.
Also scheduled in Season 4, hear from members STCR, PepsiCo, Dream2Career and more.
Shelf Confidence posts a new episode every other Wednesday morning. The podcast is available at shelfconfidence.buzzsprout.com, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
Shelf Confidence launched in July 2021. Over its three previous seasons, the podcast has highlighted sustainability with The GIANT Company, reframing healthy snacking with Utz, High’s Safe Shop certification, diversity and inclusion with Sheetz, c-store innovation with National Convenience Distributors and many other trending topics.
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association is pleased to share that four new members are joining its Board of Directors. This January, PFMA welcomes Paul Brauer, president and COO, Brown’s Super Stores, Inc.; Tom Charley, vice president, Charley Family Shop N’ Save; Deriece Harrington, director of government affairs, PepsiCo; and Shawn Rinnier, president, Save Philly Stores.
“What a great way to kick off a new year, welcoming these respected and active members of the food retail industry to our PFMA Board of Directors,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “We thank Paul, Tom, Deriece and Shawn for their dedication to the association and look forward to benefitting from their perspectives and expertise.”
Paul Bauer is president and COO for Brown’s Super Stores, Inc., a growing twelve-store supermarket chain trading under the ShopRite and Fresh Grocer banners and part of the Wakefern Food Corporation. Brown’s Super Stores share a basic belief: Inner city supermarket customers deserve a shopping experience that includes quality products, low prices, fresh and clean stores and above all, respectful customer service.
Bauer works with many Philadelphia community-based organizations and nonprofit programs. For several years, he has worked on job training programs and placement to give ex-offenders a new beginning when re-entering society. He has been a guest speaker at events related to his work with employing ex-offenders and advocating for legislation in the area of reducing recidivism.
Bauer is an executive member of the Board of Directors of the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC), and vice president of the Board of the Park West Business Association. He serves as an advisory board member to Philabundance Food Bank, as well as Self-Incorporated, a nonprofit running homeless shelters. He also serves as an adjunct professor teaching Integrated Marketing Communications within the Food Marketing program at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He graduated from Shippensburg University with a degree in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior, and earned his Master’s of Business Administration from St. Joseph’s University. He lives in the Lehigh Valley with his wife Lori and their two children.
Tom Charley is a fourth-generation grocery retailer out of Westmoreland, Pa. The Charley family operates three Shop N Save stores. Charley grew up in the food industry and is very passionate about it. He works alongside his brother, Mike, and father, Ray Charley. He serves on the government relations committee for the National Grocers Association and is on the advisory board for the Shop N Save group, an 80-store grocery chain based in western Pennsylvania. Just as important, Charley said, “I also have the most amazing daughter.”
As Director of Government Affairs, Deriece Harrington represents PepsiCo before state and local governments in the Mid-Atlantic. She engages with community and government officials while developing and maintaining key relationships with stakeholders in her region and around the country. She previously worked as deputy executive director of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, where she managed the day-to-day operations of the caucus and critical relationships with corporate and nonprofit partners as well as legislative members from around the country.
As a political science graduate of Morgan State University, she began her career as the executive director for the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, Inc. (LBCM). Her tenure at the LBCM led to her Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Policy and Management and her work with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. As the chamber’s vice president of government affairs, she advocated on behalf of their members in the areas of employment law, energy, environment, transportation and tax.
Harrington has participated in several leadership fellowship programs, such as the Council of State Governments Robert J. Thompson Eastern Leadership Academy, and has won numerous awards like the Daily Record’s Leading Women in Maryland, top 40 under 40 in Prince George’s County by the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund and 2018 Rising Star by the Living Classrooms Foundation. In 2021, she was named one of the top 40 under 40 Very Important Professionals by The Daily Record.
She serves on several community and national boards and committees, including Living Classrooms- National Capital Region Board, A Wider Circle and the Psi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is a native of Jamaica, N.Y., and currently lives in Southern Maryland with her husband and daughters.
Shawn Rinnier owns and operates 20 supermarkets in the tri-state area. Thirteen of the stores are in Pennsylvania throughout Philadelphia, Delaware County, Montgomery County and Western Pennsylvania regions, operating under the banners Save a Lot and GreatValu markets. Save Philly Stores specialize in catering to underserved residents by delivering fresh and healthy foods at affordable prices every day.
PFMA is led by a 37-member Board of Directors that includes retail and associate members.
This volunteer group shapes the association's agenda. Members are elected to unlimited three-year terms.
Celebrating our 70th year of successes
PFMA celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2022, wrapping up another successful year. Here are some of our association highlights:
PFMA assisted in the passage of several legislative victories this year, including:
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association is now accepting applications for the 2023 Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship. Eligible students can apply for a one-year, $2,500 scholarship for the 2023-2024 academic year.
The scholarship amount increased last year by $500 each. In 2022, 27 students earned a total of $67,500 toward their educations.
“This is one of the highlights of our work at PFMA every year,” said Alex Baloga, PFMA president and CEO. “The scholarship gives us an opportunity to recognize students for their hard work and dedication in attaining a college degree. The generosity of our members allows us to support a growing number of students by easing the financial burden of pursuing higher education. Special thanks to The GIANT Company, Karns Quality Foods, Rutter’s, Sheetz and Wawa for their contributions.”
Current employees, their children and the children of company owners who are PFMA members can apply for the scholarship at PFMA.org/scholarships. All scholarship applications must be made online. Applications are due no later than March 1, 2023.
A panel of judges evaluates applications based on academic record, school and community involvement, a personal essay and recommendations from school and work.
Since its start in 1995, nearly 630 students have received the Ridge Scholarships, totaling about $1.2 million.
Named for the parents of former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the Ridge Scholarship honors Thomas R. Ridge, who was a member of the food industry for 25 years, and his wife Laura, who was a great advocate of education for Tom Ridge, his brother David and sister Vikki.
During its fall board meeting in Hershey, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association Board of Directors welcomed Christopher Reed, general counsel for The Rutter’s Companies, as its newest board member. Reed accepted the open seat after Scott Hartman, president and CEO of Rutter’s Holdings Inc., ended his long-time involvement on the board.
Reed leads Rutter’s legal team, with 11 years of experience in real estate development, environmental remediation, fuel, gambling, alcohol, mergers and acquisitions and corporate transactions.
“We are excited to welcome Chris to the PFMA board and continue a strong, engaged relationship with Rutter’s, a long-time sponsor and member of PFMA,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “Chris brings a wealth of experience to the board that will benefit our members and impact our agenda moving forward.”
During the meeting, Baloga also recognized Hartman’s years of service on the board. Hartman joined the board in 1999. He served as treasurer and secretary, each for two years, and ascended to the role of chair from 2007 to 2008. His father, Stewart Hartman, also served as board chair from 1995 to 1997.
“It’s hard to measure the impact that Scott and Rutter’s have had on PFMA,” Baloga said. “We appreciate his service, dedication and engagement on the board, and his continued involvement as a PFMA sponsor and member. Our success at PFMA depends on the commitment of members like Scott.”
Reed moved into his present role as general counsel at Rutter’s in 2018. Previously, he worked as associate general counsel at Rite Aid, where he advised on and negotiated all facets of commercial real estate development and pharmacy acquisition transactions. He began his career at a mid-sized Pennsylvania law firm in 2011.
He attended Monmouth University and earned degrees in finance and management in 2008. He continued his education at Villanova University School of Law and obtained his Juris Doctorate in 2011.
Reed serves as a board member for Rutter’s Children’s Charities. Among other service, he also is the president of the board for York Day Early Learning.
He and his wife Amy live in York, Pa., and have two children and a Great Dane, Nena.
PFMA is led by a 36-member Board of Directors that includes retail and associate members. This volunteer group shapes the association's agenda. Members are elected to unlimited three-year terms.
Looking ahead: PFMA’s Fall Legislative Conference focuses on key issues for food retailers in 2023
Industry leaders and key government insiders shared their insight on everything from holiday trends to inflation challenges to the potential impact of upcoming elections with members of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association in Hershey.
The two-day conference delivered panels and discussions focused on a range of opportunities and challenges food retailers can anticipate in 2023. The event included moments to socialize and celebrate, as members gathered for golf at Hershey Country Club’s East Course and the association shared milestones from its 70 years in the industry.
“It’s always a pleasure to connect with our members and hear from industry experts on trends and challenges facing the industry,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “This is a particularly special year for PFMA as we celebrate 70 years as an association. We are able to accomplish what we do because we have an incredibly supportive and active membership. The conference provides an opportunity to prepare for future challenges we’ll face together as an industry.”
PFMA welcomed Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI—The Food Industry Association, as the keynote speaker during dinner Tuesday. Sarasin thanked the association for its “faithful service to the food industry” over its 70-year history. That unified voice is “critical when meeting with federal legislators on complex issues,” she said.
Sarasin provided a wealth of information on the public perception of the business sector, holiday trends, shifting shopper concerns, online shopping, out-of-stocks and more.
I hope you will join me in finding ways we can make things better for shoppers--not just because it will improve our public image, but because it’s a way of helping heal our world and improving the public’s image of itself."
“We’re still feeling our way along as we move from pandemic to endemic, still trying to figure out work styles, deal with the economic aftereffects of COVID-19 exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and figure out which consumer shopping behaviors that shifted during the pandemic are going to stick and require further investment and development from the food industry,” she said.
However, grocery shares a special bond with its communities, she continued. “We are a mostly silent, but integral part of every single family feast… As we walk through our research findings, I hope you will join me in finding ways we can make things better for shoppers—not just because it will improve our public image, but because it’s a way of helping heal our world and improving the public’s image of itself.”
During dinner, Rep. Sheryl Delozier also recognized PFMA’s 70 years serving and supporting the food retail industry by presenting the association with an anniversary citation.
Sessions began Wednesday focused on challenges and opportunities facing the tobacco sector. Representatives from SNAC International, FMI and NACS then covered a range of topics facing the food industry, including transportation issues, supply chain, the possibility of a recession and more.
The conference concluded with Alan Novak and T.J. Rooney of Rooney Novak Isenhour Group discussing potential outcomes and impacts of the upcoming elections.
PFMA thanks all those who attended and participated in this year’s conference. A special thank you to Hershey Country Club and Troeg’s Brewery for their hospitality.
The PFMA Annual Conference is scheduled for May 9 and 10, 2023, at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square. Details are forthcoming.
Central Penn Business Journal has recognized Alex Baloga, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, as a Forty Under 40 recipient.
Forty Under 40 recognizes professionals 40 years of age and younger who have been successful in the Central Pennsylvania area. Honorees, chosen by the editors and publisher of the Central Penn Business Journal, were selected based on professional accomplishments, community service and commitment to inspiring change.
“The 2022 Forty Under 40 honorees represent the future of Central Pennsylvania. They have achieved professional success and are making significant contributions to our community and inspire change," said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, senior group publisher of the Central Penn Business Journal. “We at the Central Penn Business Journal congratulate them and look forward to their future accomplishments.”
Baloga works as a leader in Pennsylvania’s food and beverage retail industries and in the communities served by PFMA’s 800-plus member companies. He became the association’s president at just 33 years old, working closely with the PFMA Board of Directors on initiatives like preventing food insecurity, combating illicit trade, supporting adult beverage reform and more.
“I’m thrilled and humbled to earn this recognition from the Central Penn Business Journal alongside so many accomplished professionals in the Midstate,” Baloga said. “This is an industry that impacts everyone. I’m proud of our accomplishments at PFMA and look forward to further advancing food retail initiatives in Pennsylvania.”
Baloga represents PFMA on several boards, including the Classification and Ratings Committee for the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau, Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund, Food Industry Association Executives Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association Board of Directors, NACS Legislative Committee and Pennsylvania Lottery Sales Advisory Council.
He previously was recognized on the 40 Under 40 list for City & State PA and The Griffin Report. He also earned the 2018 Excellent in Government Affairs Award from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and was named to City & State PA 2022 Pennsylvania Agriculture Power 100.
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) recently awarded its 2022 Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship to 27 deserving students.
This year, scholarship winners earned a total of $67,500 toward their goals in higher education. Recipients are chosen by a panel of judges who review each applicant’s academic record, school and community involvement, recommendations and a submitted essay.
“Kudos to this year’s Ridge Scholars, who represent some of our brightest young adults,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “They have amassed an impressive list of accomplishments, service and leadership both academically and professionally. We are happy to recognize their efforts and help them reach their academic goals.”
Individual scholarship amounts increased this year, awarding every student with a $2,500 scholarship for the 2022-23 academic year. In total, $67,500 in scholarships were awarded, an increase of $22,500 from 2021. Scholarship funds come from PFMA’s Education Trust as well as sponsoring PFMA member companies The GIANT Company, Karns Foods, Rutter’s, Sheetz and Wawa.
“It is an honor to be selected as a recipient of the Ridge Scholarship from the many deserving applicants,” said recipient Sydney Eckhardt of Phoenixville, Pa. “As a Wawa associate for the last two years, my co-workers have shown me how the food industry supports our communities by providing convenient access to food and services. The scholarship will help me in continuing my education at Boston College where I plan to study history and economics while engaging in community service activities.”
This year’s recipients are listed below with their goals in higher education. PFMA thanks its members for sponsoring the Ridge Scholars, and each sponsoring business is listed in parentheses.
Aiden Anderson of Newton Square, Pa., plans to attend the University of South Carolina Honors College to major in international business and minor in Spanish. (Wawa)
Helayna Baer of Cheswick, Pa., plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to major in chemical engineering and minor in French. (Sheetz)
Ethan J. Cramer of York, Pa., plans to attend Pennsylvania State University to major in architectural engineering. (Rutter’s)
Maizie Ecker of Seven Valleys, Pa., plans to attend West Chester University to major in biochemistry. (Rutter’s)
Sydney Eckhardt of Phoenixville, Pa., plans to attend Boston College to major in history and minor in economics. (Wawa)
Christian Herbster of Nanticoke, Pa., plans to attend Marywood University to become a physician assistant with a minor in nutrition and dietetics. (PFMA)
Francis Iuvara of Haddon Heights, N.J., plans to attend Camden County College Blackwood to major in business. (Wawa)
Katherine Kimmel of Dover, Pa., plans to attend Wilson College to study pre-veterinary medicine. (Rutter’s)
Meredith Lucey of Hanover, Pa., plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to major in biology and minor in chemistry. (PFMA)
Peter Murnane of West Chester, Pa., plans to attend Pennsylvania State University to major in mechanical engineering and minor in technology-based entrepreneurship and innovation. (The GIANT Company)
George Papoutsis of Mechanicsburg, Pa., plans to attend Pennsylvania State University, Schreyer Honors College, to major in economics. (The GIANT Company)
Riya Patel of Ellicott City, Md., plans to attend the University of Maryland, College Park, to major in public health science. (PFMA)
Hayden Perrone of Phoenixville, Pa., plans to attend Penn State Berks and major in biology. (The GIANT Company)
Jamie Pottman of York, Pa., plans to attend the University of Delaware to major in applied molecular biology and biotechnology. (Rutter’s)
Mark Pottman of York, Pa., plans to attend Kutztown University of Pennsylvania to major in cinema, media and television. (Rutter’s)
McKenna Shaffer of Somerset, Pa., plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to major in pre-occupational therapy. (PFMA)
Kaitlyn Sheriff of Landisburg, Pa., plans to attend Lycoming College to major in astrophysics and minor in computer science. (Karns Foods)
Caleb Shoemaker of Newport, Pa., plans to attend Penn State Harrisburg to major in mechanical engineering. (Rutter’s)
Dylan Spangler of Spring Grove, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University to major in mechanical engineering. (Rutter’s)
Dominic Spatola of Springfield, Pa., plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to major in computer engineering. (The GIANT Company)
Sandya Subramanian of Bridgewater, N.J., plans to attend Boston University School of Medicine to major in medicine. (PFMA)
Nadija Sulcaj of Philadelphia, Pa., plans to attend the University of South Florida to major in psychology with a concentration in advanced research experience. (Wawa)
Caitlyn Sweet of Lincoln University, Pa., plans to attend Shenandoah University to major in exercise science pre-physical therapy with minors in biology, physiology and coaching. (The GIANT Company)
Simon Szalla of Lower Burrell, Pa., plans to attend Ohio State University to major in political science. (PFMA)
Ryan Wilson of Mechanicsburg, Pa., plans to attend Bloomsburg University to major in finance. (PFMA)
Cayden Wright of Roaring Spring, Pa., plans to attend Rochester Institute of Technology to major in computing security. (Sheetz)
Donald Yealy of New Oxford, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University to major in forest ecosystem management and minor in wildlife and fisheries science. (PFMA)
Established in 1996, the Ridge Scholarship honors the parents of former Gov. Tom Ridge. Thomas R. Ridge was a member of the food industry for 25 years, and his wife, Laura, was a great advocate of education for their three children: Tom, David and Vikki. To date, 627 students have earned Ridge Scholarships, and nearly $1.2 million has been awarded.
Tune in July 20 as the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association introduces the third season of Shelf Confidence, a podcast focused on trends and innovation in the food and beverage retail industries.
“Our members lead the way with the initiatives they launch,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “From sustainability efforts to improved customer experience to innovative loyalty programs and so much more, the podcast provides an opportunity to share the amazing work our retail and associate members are doing to move the industry forward.”
Westfield Egg Farm opens Season 3 with an episode focused on sustainable and ethical farming. Its brands Natures Yoke and Utopihen offer products that take customers down a broader journey focused on family, health and a positive future.
Also on deck this season:
Listen, share and subscribe to catch these episodes, and hear what else is planned for Season 3. Shelf Confidence posts a new episode every other Wednesday morning. The podcast is available at shelfconfidence.buzzsprout.com, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
Shelf Confidence launched in July 2021. Over its two 10-episode seasons, the podcast has highlighted sustainability with The GIANT Company, home meal kits at Karns Quality Foods, reframing healthy snacking with Utz, High’s Safe Shop certification, the benefits of being an independent grocery with Charley Family Shop ’N Save and many other trending topics.
At its annual board meeting in June, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association welcomed Scott Quigg, president and CEO of Pump N Pantry, Inc., to its Board of Directors. He joins the board on behalf of Pump N Pantry to fill the role of Sam Anderson.
With 34 years of experience in the retail and petroleum industries, Quigg leads Pump N Pantry and its affiliates in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.
“We’re thrilled to have Scott join the board. Scott’s experience and knowledge in the industry will be such an asset to the association,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “I’m thankful for the time that Sam served and for Pump N Pantry’s continued support.”
Quigg’s career began with Cumberland Farms Convenience Stores and Christy’s Markets in New England. He attended Boston University Questrom School of Business, earned his MBA and moved to Pennsylvania in 1993 to join the family business.
In 2000, he became president of fuel wholesaler Fleet Transport & Trading, Inc. Upon purchasing Pump N Pantry, Inc. in 2001, he moved into his current role as president and CEO of Pump N Pantry and its affiliates.
Quigg graduated high school from Deerfield Academy, received a post-graduate high school diploma from the American School in Switzerland, a Bachelor’s in Philosophy from Bates College and an MBA from the Boston University Questrom School of Business.
Among other service, Quigg has served on the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association, the Board of Directors of the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Mass., and currently serves on the Board of Directors as Treasurer of the Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield, Mass.
He and his wife Melinda live in Montrose, Pa., and have two grown children.
PFMA is grateful for Quigg’s service on the board. PFMA is led by a 36-member Board of Directors that includes retail and associate members. This volunteer group shapes the association’s agenda.
Liz Kemmery, Director of Communications