Michael Cannon, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Surlean Foods

Tagged in Board of Directors Leadership Manufacturer Members

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.

What do your customers appreciate most about your company?

Surlean Foods is obsessed with giving foodservice customers exactly what they want.

If you had to describe IFMA in just three words, what would they be?

Knowledge, Connections and Member-centric.

What industry challenge keeps you up at night?

Government regulations on restaurants that will creep through the entire supply chain.

What is your advice to a person new to the industry?

1.) Attend Foodservice Fundamentals, 2.) Eat out often to understand the foodservice consumer dynamic, and 3.) Work in a restaurant long enough to get promoted.

What types of lessons did you learn early on in your career?

I worked for a regional restaurant company for many years and thought that my career goal was to become a general manager of the restaurant. I was promoted after about 18 months, but I was not prepared to be a leader. I found out quickly that in order to be successful, I would have to get all of our objectives accomplished through my team. It was no longer about me.

How do you keep up with industry news and events?

Online publications and sources, industry events like IFMA/IFDA Presidents Conference.

What is your industry passion?

My industry passion is focused on modeling the way for the diversity of leaders that will be needed to drive the long-term growth of the foodservice channel.

What do you value most about being on an IFMA committee?

Providing content insights and direction.

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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May 19

Gold & Silver Plate Celebration

This Annual IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards event during NRA Week enables manufacturers to honor the nation's top operator talent. Annually, IFMA grants Silver Plate Awards in nine operator categories and honors one winner with the prestigious Gold Plate Award on the night of the celebration. This event affords the perfect opportunity to entertain operator customers. 

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.

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.

Kent Walrack, President & Chief Operating Officer, Lyons Magnus

Kent has a keen understanding of teamwork and loyalty after spending nearly 30 years working his way up through Lyons Magnus. He takes great pride in being part of a dedicated core management team and cultivating talent throughout the organization. Get to know him.

Mike Villano, VP/GM Foodservice, Basic American Foods

Mike Villano is no stranger to hard work. After getting his start in foodservice managing seafood restaurants in Manhattan, he learned quickly what types of challenges operators face on a daily basis. This foundational knowledge and his "no shortcuts" approach helps him ensure Basic American Foods' customers thrive in the restaurant business. Get to know him.

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.

NAFEM honors Bendix and Hickey for commitment to IFMA

The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) honored 50 allied association leaders with a Doctorate of Foodservice (DFS) award. Former chairs of IFMA's Board of Directors, Mark Bendix, CEO of East Balt Bakeries and Michael Hickey, Executive Vice President & President Global Institutional of Ecolab, were recognized for their steadfast commitment to IFMA.

Erin Buntin, Director, Foodservice Sales, Schreiber Foods

In Erin Buntin's current role at Schreiber Foods, she is charged with being "customer obsessed", which means she leads the company's field sales team to build strategies and business plans that focus on exceeding customers expectations and of course, selling more cases profitably. When her friends ask her what she does, she simply replies "I am changing the world one slice of cheese at a time." Get to know her.

Elisa Giusti -- Director of Marketing, Wholesome Harvest Baking

Elisa Giusti has a passion that echoes throughout her work. No challenge is too large. Simply tell her something can't be done, and she'll make it her mission to overcome. Pay attention to what she has to say, we'll be seeing much more from the likes of her. 

Larry Oberkfell, IFMA, President/CEO

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.

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.