Larry Oberkfell, IFMA, President/CEO

Tagged in Board of Directors Leadership

A food industry sage with over 30 years experience working for Anchor Foods, The Schwan Food Company, Orval Kent and IFMA, Larry is a high-energy slayer of comfort zones-approaching every challenge with an open mind and a smile. Get to know him.

Share a story about your first job in foodservice.

I have had the fortune to learn the business under mentors such as Bob Rich Sr. and other pioneers in foodservice. These mentors taught me the importance of making and sustaining personal relationships in this business. Meaningful metrics are few but relationships help you fine tune your own thinking.

What is your industry passion?

Positive attitude and the willingness to accept different solutions to problems.

How do you keep up with industry news and events?
Read an assortment of sources; online and print. Talk to members and their customers to get their views.

In your opinion, what is the best industry event?
Presidents Conference because it is strategic and attended by the industry leaders.

What will be the biggest change in foodservice 2020? 
More sophistication will be required by fewer bigger customers.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My family.

What are five things you always have in your carry-on bag?
My iPad, business cards, company presentation on memory stick, iPhone, workout clothes.

What items can always be found in your grocery cart?
steak, veggies, bottle of good red wine

IFMA featured members are selected based on their accomplishments in the food industry. Recognized as leaders, they are the people moving the industry forward with big ideas and even bigger goals. Know someone who fits the bill? Tell us.

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Nov 06

Presidents Conference

The IFMA Presidents Conference is the place “Where Leaders Meet.” The 54th annual premier top-to-top forum, co-hosted by the NRA and IFDA, brings together influential leaders of foodservice from the operator, manufacturer and distributor communities.

Rick Kirkpatrick, Vice President, Sweet Street Desserts

As vice president of sales & marketing at Sweet Street Desserts and an active IFMA board member, Rick relies on foodservice industry events and social media to build lasting relationships with foodservice leaders, fellow board members and his customers. Get to know him.

Michael Cannon, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Surlean Foods

Managing the growth and development of the sales, marketing and R&D teams at Surlean Foods is quite the task, but somehow Michael finds time to help shape many of IFMA's programs. His motto, "Don't let 'perfect' get in the way of 'better'" helps him stay on task and continuously seek improvement. Get to know him.

Joe Bybel -- Senior VP, Marketing and R&D, Ventura Foods

Maintaining a strong work ethic and keeping an eye on the details are two key traits needed for success in foodservice, according to Joe Bybel of Ventura Foods. In addition, Joe believes providing simpler and more natural products will continue to be a top priority needed to meet complex consumer demands. Get to know him.

Robert A. Corscadden, VP Marketing & Innovation U.S. Specialty Channels, Kellogg Company

Bob notes that one of the greatest innovations in foodservice over the past decade is reality food shows, which have turned cooking into drama and competition. People are now learning about foods and ingredients they never knew existed and are challenging operators to provide dishes that mirror what they see on TV. Get to know him.

Richard Ferranti, Executive VP and COO, Rich Products

"Why not?" is a simple question that has opened up a world of opportunity for Richard Ferranti. From establishing businesses in emerging markets like China, Brazil and India to leading the North American business for Rich Products, he's a foodservice guru with all the right stuff. Get to know him.

Josh Halpern, Vice President, Small Format, Anheuser-Busch

Helping retailers alleviate their key pain points is a primary area of focus for Josh. And in the foodservice industry, these issues unilaterally involve traffic, check size, innovation, server training and commodity cost. Learn more about how Josh helps address these challenges and more at Anheuser-Busch.

Mads Houlberg, President, Unilever Food Solution

As president of Unilever Food Solutions, Mads Houlberg considers himself the leader of an entrepreneurial team and company. He is passionate about giving foodservice professionals a chance to build their careers. He believes social media is extremely important to the industry. Get to know him.

Kathleen Schartner, Director, Business Development, Farmer Brothers

When asked how she keeps up with industry news and events, Kathleen noted, "dining out" in her response. It's precisely that simple, insightful, tuned-in mindset that makes Kathleen stand out in foodservice. Get to know her.

Ben Shanley, Vice President Distributor Development, Coca-Cola Refreshments USA

If there's one word to describe Ben Shanley it's "optimistic." He has spent 29 years with Coca-Cola reinforcing the brand's mission to refresh the world and inspire moments of optimism. Ben also views the future of foodservice with an optimistic lens, recognizing the industry's importance for U.S. employment and career growth. Get to know him.

Gretchen Sussman, Vice President - Foodservice North America, CSM Bakery Solutions

Gretchen develops and communicates clear and actionable strategies, while also removing barriers to her team's success at CSM Bakery Solutions. Further, she also prioritizes getting to know customers and offering value-added solutions to improve business results. Get to know her.