Richard Ferranti, CEO, Rich Products
As Chief Executive Officer, Richard is responsible for guiding the long-term strategic direction and performance of the company. He stepped into the CEO role in January 2020 and is just the fourth person in company history to hold that title. Prior to, he served as company president from 2018-2019, also just the fourth-ever person to serve in that capacity.
A Rich’s associate since 1986, Richard has deep experience in managing organizational expansion, negotiations, and associate leadership and development. Early in his tenure, he worked in a series of sales and marketing roles, each expanding his knowledge and responsibility across Rich’s global footprint. In 1997, he was named President of Rich’s International Business Group and was then President of Rich’s North America Business Group, before being promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2012.
Richard is active with several industry associations, including the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) after numerous years as a board member. He also plays an active role in the Western New York community, supporting the Leadership Society for the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.
Richard frequently serves as guest lecturer on international business and world affairs topics at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he is a member of UB’s Dean’s Advisory Council.
Richard earned his MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Canisius College. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program, which brings together political and business leaders from around the world.
Richard and his wife, Nancy, have been married since 1985. They have an adult son, Michael, daughter-in-law Lauren, and two beautiful grandchildren, Grace and Charlie. Richard is an avid golfer, reader and a diehard Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres fan.
Rich’s, also known as Rich Products Corporation, is a family-owned food company dedicated to inspiring possibilities. From cakes and icings to pizza, appetizers and specialty toppings, our products are used in homes, restaurants, and bakeries around the world. Beyond great food, our customers also gain insights to help them stay competitive, no matter their size. Our portfolio includes creative solutions geared at helping food industry professionals compete in foodservice, retail, in-store bakery, deli, and prepared foods, among others. Working in 100 locations globally, with annual sales exceeding $4 billion, Rich’s is a global leader with a focus on everything that family makes possible. Rich’s®—Infinite Possibilities. One Family. Learn more at Richs.com or join the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
Kevyn Adams, General Manager, Buffalo Sabres
Kevyn Adams was named the ninth general manager in Buffalo Sabres franchise history on June 16, 2020. The 2021-22 season will mark his second as general manager and seventh overall with the franchise.
A native of Clarence, New York, Adams originally joined the Sabres’ organization in 2009 as player development coach, a role he held for two seasons before serving as an assistant coach during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns. Beginning in 2013, Adams was instrumental in building The Academy of Hockey program at LECOM Harborcenter from its inception while also serving as president of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. He was elevated to general manager of LECOM Harborcenter in January 2019. In September of 2019, Adams was named the Sabres’ vice president of business administration. In that role, he oversaw the day-to-day business operations of the team throughout the 2019-20 season.
Prior to his time with the Sabres and LECOM Harborcenter, Adams had a Hall-of-Fame playing career at Miami (OH) University and was a first-round pick of the Boston Bruins in the 1993 NHL Draft. Adams spent 11 seasons playing in the National Hockey League for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. He was an alternate captain on the Hurricanes team that captured the Stanley Cup in 2006.
Adams received his bachelor’s degree in 1996 from Miami (OH) University and his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix in 2014. As a player, he was very active with the NHLPA and, following his career, worked with O2K Worldwide Management Group in player development and player scouting.
Don Granato, Head Coach, Buffalo Sabres
Don Granato is currently in his fourth season with the Sabres and his second full season as head coach after serving as an interim head coach during part of the 2020-21 season and an assistant coach since June 2019.
Before being hired by the Sabres, Granato spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks after serving as the associate head coach for the University of Wisconsin during the 2016-17 season.
During his coaching career, Granato spent seven total seasons in the St. Louis Blues’ organization, including one season as an assistant coach for the Blues (2005-06). He also served as the head coach for the Worcester IceCats, St. Louis’ AHL affiliate, for five seasons (2000-01 to 2004-05). In his first season with the IceCats, Granato was the recipient of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award, awarded annually to the AHL’s most outstanding coach. He later spent parts of two seasons with the Chicago Wolves (AHL) as the club’s head coach from 2008-09 to 2009-10.
Granato began his coaching career in the USHL during the 1993-94 season as the interim head coach of the Wisconsin Capitols. He became general manager and head coach of the Green Bay Gamblers the following campaign and led the team to the best record in the USHL in 1995-96 and 1996-97. The following season, Granato moved to the ECHL, where he spent two seasons as general manager and head coach of the Columbus Chill before winning the Kelly Cup in his only season as head coach of the Peoria Rivermen in 1999-00.
A native of Downers Grove, Illinois, Granato also has extensive experience as a coach at the national level for the United States. From 2011-12 to 2015-16, Granato served as a head coach at the USNTDP, where he led his teams to victories at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and the 2015 IIHF World U18 Championship. He was also an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship and at the 2014 and 2018 IIHF World Championships.
As a player, he captured an NCAA Championship with the University of Wisconsin in 1990. He spent two seasons in the ECHL with Columbus, posting 90 points (26+64) in 103 career contests.
Rebecca Brady, Owner, Top Seedz
Originally hailing from New Zealand, Rebecca moved to Buffalo, NY, in 2015. She combines her passions and talents as a traveler and athlete to run a successful food business that helps to raise up female refuges.
Rebecca has always baked crackers as snacks to have on hand for her tennis tournaments. She started bringing them as hostess gifts and then started selling them at Farmers Markets. As luck would have it, a buyer from the grocery chain Wegman’s tasted one, and wanted Top Seedz in stores. Top Seedz can now be found in Wegman’s, Whole Foods, and independent markets throughout the United States. Created on the belief that good food equals good performance, Top Seedz are gluten-free and vegan, and made from pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and flax seeds, all of which pack a punch. Their crackers and seeds are distributed in over 300 stores nationwide.
Top Seedz mission is to grow health and happiness in Every Body. Rebecca’s top three priorities: Superior Customer Experience, Employee Happiness, Profitability. She is a Mum of three great children and loves great food.
Samantha Biljan, Senior Research Analyst, Datassential
Sam Biljan supports a wide range of clients, including foodservice operators and manufacturers. She is a member of the trend expert council that manages Menu Adoption Cycles, used by clients to ideate and innovate. Her passion for food is expansive, and finding the real, socio-cultural story driving the data is one of her favorite ways to explore it with clients. The trends she is most excited by include: plant based and sustainable sourcing practices, global cuisines, and regional American eats.
Jeff Metzger, President, Best-Met Publishing Co.
Jeff Metzger currently serves as president of Best-Met Publishing Co. and publisher of Food World, Food Trade News, and the Mid-Atlantic Grocery Industry Directory. He and his now retired business partner, Dick Bestany, founded the Columbia, MD-based company in 1978. All three publications primarily cover the retail food industry in the Northeast, but over the last decade have expanded their coverage to include parts of the Southeast. Best-Met Publishing also operates a website – foodtradenews.com.
Prior to co-founding Best-Met Publishing, he served as editor of The Griffin Report, the food industry newspaper which covers New England. Metzger was inducted into the Maryland Food Industry Hall of Fame in 2011.
A native of New York, Metzger was graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. He currently resides in Marriottsville, MD.
Josh Halpern, CEO, Big Chicken
Josh Halpern is the Chief Executive Officer for Big Chicken. Josh is a dynamic, partnership-focused, thought leader with a robust career in streamlining efficiency, driving innovation, building diverse engaged teams, and growing economic results across the CPG, retail, and restaurant verticals. He was named to Nation Restaurant News’ Top 100 Most Influential CEOs and to Fast Casual Magazine’s 2022 Top Movers and Shakers List.
Before this role, Josh served as the Chief Sales Officer for Buffalo-based FIFCO USA, the 8th largest US brewing company, where he was responsible for commercial operations and building top and bottom-line results for Off-Premise, On-Premise, and company-owned brewpubs. Prior, Josh led the Anheuser-Busch InBev, On-Premise and Small Format channels in the US, and Shopper Marketing globally. During his tenure at Anheuser-Busch InBev, Josh built the strategy for licensed, branded experiential zones leading to 46 restaurants and bars in stadiums, airports, and hotels, including the iconic “Beer Park by Budweiser” at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. He was also responsible for Anheuser-Busch’s pilots in the QSR space resulting in piloted distribution at Starbucks, and a beer-as-ingredient Budweiser Beer Cheeseburger at Hardees/Carl’s Jr. Halpern has held roles at Reckitt Benckiser, Just Born Candy, Clorox, and Procter and Gamble growing brands in 50+ categories.
Josh leads from a partnership-first perspective, unlocking growth for the company, suppliers, customers, and business partners. As a result, his teams have won “Vendor of the Year” honors from many restaurants and retailers including: Buffalo Wild Wings, Hilton, Twin Peaks, HMS Host, Centerplate, Hooters, Hard Rock Café, Outback Steakhouse, Murphy USA, Circle K and more. Halpern is known to incorporate his business and financial acumen while using big data to solve complex problems while focusing on efficiencies. He is a certified Six-Sigma Green Belt.
Josh believes in giving back to the industry. He currently sits on the boards of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Supplier Board, and Niagara University’s Food Marketing Center of Excellence. He also sits on the International Committee of the International Franchise Association. Prior, Josh has served on the boards for the International Foodservice Manufacturer’s Association (IFMA), and the National Restaurant Association’s Military Foundation. Halpern holds an MBA from Babson College and a BS from Cornell University. Josh and his wife are the proud parents of three amazing boys and live in the New York Metro Area.
Kurt Schertle, COO, Weis Markets
Kurt Schertle is Weis Markets Chief Operating Officer. Weis Markets is Mid-Atlantic food retailer operating 200 stores in seven states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, Delaware and Virginia.
Mr. Schertle oversees and directs all aspects of his company’s marketing, merchandising, procurement, advertising, store operations and supply chain, including its distribution and transportation teams.
Mr. Schertle has more than 30 years of food retailing experience. Earlier in his career, he worked for Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, which operates stores in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. During his career in food retailing, he has worked as a Store Manager, Director of Pricing, Director of Non-Foods, Vice President, Grocery and as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Merchandising.
Mr. Schertle joined Weis Markets in 2009 as Vice President of Sales and Merchandising. He subsequently served as Senior Vice President of Sales and Merchandising and Executive Vice President. Prior to joining Weis Markets, he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Tree Top Kids, a specialty toy retailer.
Mr. Schertle is a graduate of Towson University. He and his wife Gina have three children and reside in Hummel Wharf, PA. He sits on the boards of the Academy of Food Marketing, St. Joseph’s University. He is also a member of the Children’s Cancer Foundation and the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission.
John Persons, President, Tops Markets
John Persons currently serves as President for Tops Markets, a Williamsville, NY based company which operates 150 full-service supermarkets and 60 gas stations in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
John’s supermarket career began as a cart clerk in 1984, but it was his promotion to store manager in 1992 that started him down the path towards roles of increasing responsibility and leadership within the organization.
Over his 38 years with Tops, John’s roles have encompassed oversight for various aspects of the organization, including Operations, Sales & Marketing, Real Estate, and Information Technology, all leading up to his appointment to President in 2015. Through all these roles and responsibilities, John’s focus has always remained the same - to successfully serve its customers and the thousands of great associates who make the company possible.
Outside of Tops, John has served on the board of numerous Western New York not-for-profits, including his current role as Board Chair of The Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Foundation.
John is a Western New York native and holds a B.A. and M.B.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He and his wife, Amy, are the parents of four children and live in Clarence, NY.
Mike Seidel joined Performance Foodservice corporate in 2011 as National Category Manager for Seafood and Frozen. He was promoted in 2014 to Director of Category Management and in 2018 to Vice President of Procurement.
Mike brings to his role more than 25 years of sales, procurement and leadership experience within the foodservice industry. In 1997-2011, Mike held various roles from Marketing Associate to Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing at a Sysco Central PA.
Mike serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), is an elected Manager of NFI’s Better Seafood Board and a Planner and Presenter for the annual Global Seafood Market Conference. He is also on the Board of Directors of NPD Supply Track and serves on the Procurement Council for IPAP.
He is married, lives in the Richmond Virginia area and has four adult children and two dogs.