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Publisher's Viewpoint - Robin Ashton

Publisher's Viewpoint - Robin AshtonFounding partner Robin Ashton, president and publisher, is a true industry veteran in spite of is boyish appearance, he's covered foodservice since 1978, and E&S exclusively since 1982, as an editor and publisher at several magazines.

See all of Robin's blogs and comments

Walking Among Giants

February 01, 2013

We profile our latest winners of FER’s Industry Service Awards in this issue and will bestow them during our awards event Feb. 8 in Orlando, Fla. during The NAFEM Show. The winners—dealer Jim Hanson, rep Mitch Reilly, consultant Ed Norman, servicer Scott Hester and operator Mike Harlamert—have made enormous contributions to our industry. Their willingness to help their colleagues and competitors, to promote understanding among all the diverse players in the complex business, has been remarkable.

I’m afraid we also have had several losses in the past couple months: Fred Turner, who helped create McDonald’s; John Birchfield, who served as president of both NACUFS and FCSI; distributor and dealer Erwin Shakin; and reps and past presidents of MAFSI, Anthony Mazur and Ray Ward.

Turner was Ray Kroc’s friend and operations genius. He wrote the original training manuals back in the late 1950s and helped hundreds of owner-operators around the world open their first store. Under his leadership, McDonald’s grew to global stature. He helped found Ronald McDonald House Charities and a host of other charities. It’s true to say he helped changed the restaurant business.

Birchfield was one of the most talented people this business has ever known. He was a brilliant college foodservice operator and won IFMA’s Silver Plate Award. He became a foodservice consultant, one who could work both the menu, concept and operations side and design facilities. He served as a professor at Michigan State University’s HRI School. He threw a mean golf tournament and crab feast for his industry friends every August.

Erwin Shakin helped change the way foodservice equipment parts were purchased and distributed and how service was performed. His companies morphed into what is now All Points Foodservice, one of the largest parts distributors in the country. He also owned an E&S dealership.

The manufacturers’ rep community lost two of its favorite sons in Tony Mazur and Ray Ward. Tony, based in Philadelphia, was a founding member of MAFSI in 1949 and upon his death was the longest serving member of the group. He served as president in 1970-71and was still attending meetings well into his 90s. The association’s top award, the Tony Award, was named for Mazur.

Ward was simply one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in this business. Based in Rochester, N.Y., he worked as a rep in upstate New York for 30 years and served MAFSI as president in 2004. A couple years ago, he and his wife Karen moved to North Carolina  to help BMIL Technologies grow its international Bally walk-in business. Ray also was one of the bravest people I know. He survived two bouts of cancer and was healthy in early December when he succumbed to a heart attack.

Tony Mazur had a line that sums up all these fine people: “Your job is to make the world a better world for others.” Indeed they did. We thank them all.

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