Foodservice Equipment Reports

Henry and Jim, Paul and Wayne: Thank You

Sometimes, my job as unofficial historian of the foodservice equipment and supplies business really, really sucks. In the past two weeks, we’ve heard about the passing of four men, all of whom were major industry figures: Henry Coletti, Jim Little, Paul DeLorenzo and Wayne Martin.

I won’t repeat what Jan has written in the obits we’re running in the news sections. I’ll just give you a chance to click over to them, as we mention each one in order of our hearing the bad news.

Many of you knew Henry Coletti better than I did, although I certainly knew him well. He was a colleague of and/or mentor to a huge list of very prominent manufacturer and dealer executives, including Selim Bassoul, Jim Cullinane, Phil Dei Dolori and Mark Suchecki among many others. It was hard to forget he started at Market Forge, because he never lost his New England accent or roots. (He passed in Sandwich, Mass.) One thing many of you may not know, because I didn’t until Mark, his partner in Entrée LLC, told me, is that he also helped set up Crown, the steam company in Canada. But he was most well-known for the time he spent at Vulcan, and later in an executive role at ITW/FEG overseeing Vulcan and Wolf Range. Many, many dealers considered him a close personal friend, and not only because he always supported them in any way he could. Henry advised many dealers on their businesses, in part because he understood how much he and all manufacturers needed a healthy dealer channel. There is a reason he received FEDA’s first President Dealer-Based Distribution Award. He didn’t tell many people he was ill, which is why it was such a shock to hear of his passing.

I first met Jim Little in 1978. What a friendly, gracious man he was, even to a young editor who knew next to nothing. He was helping merge the Int’l. Society of Food Service Consultants with the Foodservice Facilities Consultants Society to form the group we now know as the Foodservice Consultants Society Int’l. He served as the combined group’s first president. He was then a leading consultant in Canada, and that’s how we knew him until he merged his firm with John Cini’s in 1985 to create the largest foodservice consulting firm the world had ever known at that point. He helped build it into the multi-branch entity it remains today and ensured its continuation. I urge you to read the wonderful remembrances from his Cini-Little colleagues John Cini, Bill Eaton and Ron Kooser in our obit. But also remember he was one of the best, most knowledgeable big foodservice facility designers who ever lived.

I don’t think I ever met Paul DeLorenzo. But I’ve heard the stories from his nephew Art DeLorenzo, long at Randell and Unified Brands, and others. One of the immigrants who helped make the U.S. and our industry what it is, Paul founded two of the largest equipment manufacturers and brands we still have today: The Delfield Co. and Randell Mfg. Delfield, as you all know, is now part of Manitowoc Foodservice; Randell has been part of Dover Corp., which owns Unified Brands, since 1986. He started Delfield in Detroit in 1953, built it into one of the largest fabricators/refrigeration manufacturers in the business and sold it to Clark Equipment, the forklift manufacturer, in 1969. Six years later, probably after his non-compete ran out, he, his two brothers and Lou Rastelli, who had been his partner at Delfield, started Randell. Both companies grew, in part, by riding the chains’ need for fab as they were in their buildout phase throughout the second half of the 20th century.

Wayne Martin never became a big boss, but he was someone I’d known and considered a friend for 33 years. He was an incredibly kind and gentle man, even on the golf course. Many of you have long known him and considered him a friend, too. He was one of my instructors when I attended Hobart Dealer School No. 98 (where Jerry Hyman, then of United East and now CEO of TriMark USA, was also a student) in November 1982. He’d come over to Hobart from General Electric in the Hotpoint acquisition and was a product manager of Hobart cooking equipment. I still can recall him explaining how both electric and gas burners worked on ranges. He became a consummate, relationship-based salesperson and sales manager who, after he left Hobart, served Hussmann, Seco/BIH Food Service (!), and W.A. Brown before he finished his career as a regional sales manager with Structural Concepts. He served the industry—and many of us—for 43 years. Not a bad run.

In fact, all of these guys had good runs. They enriched our lives, but they also helped create the industry we know and inherit today. Our sympathies and condolences go to all of their families and friends.

There’s more to learn from each of them and our interactions with them. Send me remembrances or comments on any of the four men, and we’ll post them on the website following this editorial. I’ll remind you in a later editorial to check them out.

Peace,

 

Robin Ashton

Publisher

rashton@fermag.com