My QuickPicks
Register now to activate

Contents At A Glance

FE&SEditorial Archives2004 — January — Feature

Movers & Shakers

No one sets out to become a "mover" or a "shaker." It's not a major at any accredited college or university, there's no course curriculum for students to follow and the sobriquet isn't found on any executive's business card. It simply happens if you're good enough.

Meet five who are good enough: Kim Gill Rimsza, CFSP, president and CEO of The Gill Group Inc. in Phoenix; Chris Clements, FCSI, president of Frank Clements Associates in Houston and Dallas; Lawrence Rosenbloom, a principal at APW Wyott Foodservice Equipment Inc., Dallas; Michael Posternak, CFSP, principal of Posternak Bauer Associates Inc. in Eastchester, N.Y.; and Sharon Barasch, co-CEO of Certified Service Center, Cincinnati.

Starting from different points on the foodservice industry's compass, their careers have followed parallel paths to accomplishment. All are passionate about their business, but are also just as energized when it comes to participating in life outside the office, devoting themselves to their spouses, children and the various causes to which they contribute their always-limited time.

Their biographies differ greatly and include an immigrant who renounced apartheid South Africa and began again as an E&S manufacturer, and a second-generation dealer who became first lady of a major American city. You'll also read about a service agent devoted to charitable work, a consultant who finds peace working on his ranch and a leading manufacturers' rep who discovers it as part of a frenzied Madison Square Garden crowd.

Perhaps this quintet's greatest common denominator is their perceived obligation to give something back, both to their industry and their communities. They are dedicated to using their talents and abilities to show that they have never taken their blessings for granted, and to encourage others to do the same. It's a memorable lesson, far greater than mere technical expertise, that our Movers & Shakers have to teach us.

Kim Gill Rimsza has had to balance business, political and family responsibilities to spend quality time with husband Skip and their triplets.

When one looks at Kim Gill Rimsza, CFSP, president and CEO of dealer The Gill Group Inc. in Phoenix, one sees a woman in motion who seems only to gather speed even as she shoulders more and greater responsibilities.

It was 1973 when her father, Ken Gill, founded the firm, which, by her estimate, is now one of the 25 largest in the country. She grew up in the company, and began working in it full time in 1990. But, as anyone familiar with her knows, her dealer career is only the beginning.

Gill Rimsza has served on the board of FEDA for four years and joined its executive committee a few months ago. She also occupies a seat on the board of directors of the International Food Equipment Distributors Association, her buying group. Outside the industry, she is a director of Johnson Bank, the Phoenix-based division of the Johnson Financial Group of Racine, Wis.

And, by the way, she was, until quite recently, also the First Lady of Phoenix. Husband Skip exited public service on Jan. 5 after nine years as mayor of Phoenix. As one might expect, the duties that went with being First Lady were numerous.

"We attended, of course, a lot of fund-raisers and did a lot of work within the city," she noted. "I was able to pick and choose what I was going to attend, whereas Skip had to be at a lot more events."

The selectiveness on her part can be excused in light of the needs of the couple's seven-year-old triplets, Alex, Taylor and Nicole. "At least they sleep through the night now, most of the time," she added wryly.

After stepping down as mayor, Gill Rimsza predicted, Skip will "take a little bit of time off to decide what he wants to do next. Actually, politics is his second career. He started out owning a residential real estate company. He did that for 18 years before moving into politics. I think he's going to choose his third career wisely."

Planning a day well, clearly, is critical to this FE&S Mover & Shaker. "I would say that I have very strong organizational skills," she affirmed. "I divide my time up effectively, I like to think. I'm also helping out at school on occasion because the kids do like me to come into class to participate in their reading groups and with their parties and such."

At work, Gill Rimsza makes sure she is surrounded by "very strong people. I found really early on, after having the triplets, that I just couldn't do it all. My husband was a new mayor back then and we would do an event a night. I'd work till seven, throw on a dress and run out and attend a dinner or banquet or whatever the social obligation was at that time."

After the triplets came along, she recalled, "I really had to kind of step back and evaluate things. Specifically, I added some more support at work to help me with the things I used to do but that someone else was able to step in and do after some good, strong training."

This is a strategy Gill Rimsza follows at home, too. "I've got a really great nanny. I've been very blessed. My first nanny was with me for six years, but then she moved. Now I have a new one, Donna Cotter, who's very strong and very helpful with the kids."

The role of the nanny is critical, she emphasized, "because when I'm at work I know the kids are well taken care of, having a good time, accomplishing their homework and getting things done. When I get home, we can spend some quality time together, playing or fixing dinner or reading books at bedtime." Leisure activities? Gill Rimsza found the idea amusing. "There's not a lot of extra spare time in my life," she quipped, "so, when we get to hobbies, my list is really pretty short. Actually, this past year I really did start to focus - now that the kids are a little older - on trying to incorporate some more recreational activities. I've started going back to the gym and trying to take better care of myself, and I've started taking golf lessons. Once I get strong enough, my husband and I can go out and play some golf together. My kids also take golf lessons throughout the week. We're hoping, long-term, to make golf something of a family event."

During the summer months, family members retreat to their houseboat on Lake Powell, which Gill Rimsza pointed out with pride is, at 189 miles long, the largest man-made lake in the world. "It's located in northern Arizona and runs up through Utah. We go up there a couple of times throughout the summer for a week. We take one or two other families and kind of recreate on the lake and have a great time."

She and Skip also make a serious effort to carve out "at least one adult vacation a year. We try and go somewhere to relax for just a little bit." Will the pace of life grow faster or slower as a former First Lady? "I bet that, in the end, it stays pretty much the same," Gill Rimsza concluded. "My demands at work won't change at all, and the kids will pretty much stay on course. Skip doesn't let much grass grow under his feet, so I have a feeling that whatever his next career is, it's going to keep us busy."

Away from his consulting work, Chris Clements relaxes by hunting or putting in more hours on his "life-time project" of building a cabin on his 25-acre ranch in Sandy, Texas.

Chris Clements, FCSI, president of Frank Clements Associates, with locations in Houston and Dallas, is a man exceedingly conscious of time and of place. Indeed, it is in the nexus of these two dimensions that he finds — and creates — both his peace and his meaning.

Clements' firm specializes in foodservice design, with as much as 60% to 70% of its work in schools. It also handles clients in corporate dining and healthcare, as well as a large number of churches. As he noted almost whimsically, "We don't turn down anything."

Clements has spent 21 of his 26 years in the industry with the firm his father founded. The roster of organizations to which he belongs in addition to FCSI (the Foodservice Consultants Society International) is short, being limited to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Texas School Food Service Association (TSFSA).

"I try not to get involved in too many things," he said, "because they eat up a lot of time." The time Clements does give, he believes, is well spent. "I belong to FCSI for pretty much the obvious reasons. AIA, for which I attend occasional meetings, keeps me close to the architects that I deal with."

The TSFSA represents "pretty much the same thing," he added. "We do quite a bit of school work, and membership in that association keeps me close to the foodservice directors of the various districts." Clements has taken on some occasional speaking engagements for TSFSA. "They also hold numerous industry seminars, which I attend."

As for FCSI, he predicted greater involvement ahead. "I'm trying to be more active there. I haven't been that active before, so I'm trying to attend more meetings and be more involved. Hopefully, some day I'll be involved in some of the society's committees. It's our professional organization and consultants need to support it in order to maintain credibility."

Outside of work, Clements, 47, finds solace on a small ranch in the Texas hill country, which he purchased about a year and a half ago. "I try to spend as much of my free time there as I can," he noted. "I'm working to build a cabin on the land."

The 25-acre site, located in Sandy, Texas, is "my place to unwind," he reflected. "I love it up there, it's beautiful. I've tried to build this cabin myself, with some help from my friends. We have a small guest cabin that we've built so far, and I live in that when I'm there. We're going to start building the larger one, which will be made of natural limestone rock and cedar and probably be somewhere around 1,000- to 1,200-square-feet."

Clements and his family — his wife of 13 years, Karey, and their 11-year-old daughter, Sydney, "who thinks she's 25" - spend time at the ranch "whenever we can." When he is not up at the ranch, Clements enjoys hunting and fishing, and plays golf "when I can on the free weekends."

His ranch has no name yet, a fact that makes Clements chuckle. "It's not that old yet; we're still trying to figure that out. It was easier to pick our child's name than it's been to pick this one."

His goal isn't to live in the country full time, at least not for a while. "Maybe some day I'll spend my retirement time up there," he noted. "I live now just outside of Houston in a town called League City, down by the Galveston Bay."

The work on the ranch won't be completed any time soon — "Oh, no," scoffed Clements at the mere suggestion, "this is a lifetime project" — which is most likely a good measure of its charm. Clements conceded he has become "probably a little less intense" away from work, something he's concentrated on over the years.

"I try not to bring my work home with me any more," he said. "It's become a lot easier. It used to be very hard but, as I've settled in, taking over the company when my father retired six years ago, things have become much better." The chores on the ranch are "mind-clearing work," he emphasized. "That kind of work relieves a lot of stress. Certainly, you can take out your aggression on the wood you're working with. It's satisfying, but in a different way than a job, that feeling of being able to build something yourself. We do similar things here; I design things that are eventually built, which I get gratification from. But actually putting your hands on the wood and building is kind of nice."

The common thread that runs through both office and ranch emanates from Clements' very core. "I'm pretty simple. I just enjoy working. I love my job. I enjoy the creative part of it. I like being able to design things and see them built. I also like to try to improve each one of my designs, as opposed to just making a job the same each time. "I guess I love my work and I love my playtime."

Lawrence and Natalie Rosenbloom, seen here on the Colorado River, like to vacation in exotic locales such as Cancun and the Caribbean.

Heck, no," replied Lawence Rosenbloom, a principal at APW Wyott Foodservice Equipment Inc., Dallas, when asked if he considered himself to be a mover and shaker. "I am surprised to have been so named, that's for sure. I've been in this business for 21 years as of this year, but I don't think 20 years is a long time [in our industry]. I still think of myself as a pup."

Indeed, Rosenbloom insisted that he has no title at his company, describing his role merely as "delivering the sales budget of the corporation. I oversee sales. But my business card is blank." APW Wyott makes retail foodservice equipment including hot plates, fryers, toasters, food warmers, hot food wells and refrigerated cold wells. The company also owns Bakers Pride and Bevles, a maker of holding cabinets, and has manufacturing plants in Texas and Wyoming.

Originally from South Africa, Rosenbloom is a member of both FCSI and NAFEM. Outside of business, he is a past chairman of the Dallas chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), his three-year term having expired this past October. He recently accepted the position of national vice chairman of community service for the ADL. "I was only just appointed," he said. "I'm still trying to figure out what to do."

Rosenbloom has also sat on "my share of" synagogue and Jewish Community Center boards. He described himself as "more of a traditional Jew than not. We moved here in February 1982 from South Africa - myself, my wife and our three kids - and joined the Conservative movement at that time."

The move from South Africa was made, he said, because "politically, the system [of that time] had no future." Partner Hylton Jonas and his family joined the Rosenblooms in the move. A year after they arrived, they, along with Rosenbloom's brother Brian and brother-in-law Howard Kraines, bought APW.

While he acknowledged the difficulties that come along with running any family business, Rosenbloom felt he has managed to avoid most if not all of them. "Obviously, we always hear about challenges in family businesses. I don't think we have those challenges, mainly because of the way we've organized things."

What Rosenbloom termed a "fantastic advantage" has been the partners' ability to divide responsibilities clearly among themselves. "Brian is responsible for manufacturing and engineering. Hylton is responsible for administration, finance and strategic planning. Those are areas that, perhaps, I don't enjoy." The division of roles "allows me to focus on where I'm strong and to leave my weaknesses to the others."

Rosenbloom enjoys golf, but said he doesn't get to play enough. "If I'm lucky, I play a couple of times a month, that's all. In the summertime maybe it's six times or so." His handicap is 24, a fact that made him laugh.

"You've heard the famous Sammy Davis Jr. joke? He went to play golf and they asked him, 'What's your handicap?' He said, 'I'm black, I've got one eye and I'm Jewish, and you ask me my handicap?'"

Rosenbloom, 51, and his wife Natalie married in 1976. Their triplets, Penny, Emma and Bevan, are 23 and live in New York and Danbury, Conn. He said he considers himself "very family oriented," and makes sure to see his children fairly often since they all travel for work. "We enjoy spending time with our kids, even though they all live in or near New York."

Family vacations have taken the Rosenblooms to ports of call such as Puerto Rico in 2002 and Cancun in '03. "We've also gone on cruises, and we've been back to South Africa. We travel a lot with the kids."

Rosenbloom noted that, like many of us, he believes he has matured somewhat over his years in foodservice E&S. "Initially, I was, maybe, different at work and away from work. But as I've gotten older, the two have moved closer."

Rosenbloom said he considers himself "fairly modest. I don't like the limelight, I really don't. I don't enjoy public speaking. When I was president of ADL here, I had to do a fair amount of speeches and I never derived pleasure from it. Back in December, however, we had an engagement party for my daughter, Penny. I got very caught up in making a speech to her and got very emotional. I'm an emotional person, I think."

His philosophy of life is simple. "Work hard. I've always worked hard. I believe I've done that to provide for my family."

Now that his children are out of college and part of the work force, they need to decide whether to take a place in the business that has given their family its livelihood.

Said Rosenbloom, "I've always told them that if they do want to join our business, they have to go work in another company first, for a real boss, which they're all doing right now. This way, after five years, when they've learned something, they can come and join our business, if they want."

When they can get away together, Michael and Barbara Posternak and their three sons look to vacation in warm locales where they can go fishing, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling.

Michael Posternak, CFSP, principal of Posternak Bauer Associates Inc. in Eastchester, N.Y., is first and foremost a man who appreciates quality - whether it's in his business associations, the level of rep service he provides or the time he spends with his wife and sons.

Proof of this can be seen first in the activities he chooses when he's not occupied with his day-to-day duties at his firm. These include serving four years as chairman of the MAFSI/NAFEM liaison committee and a stint as MAFSI president in 1999 and 2000. He recently left MAFSI's executive committee, on which he'd served for seven years, and its board of directors after 11 years. "I believe one of my most useful MAFSI accomplishments was the invention and creation of the MAFSI Business Barometer," he said, "which has become the Dow Jones Industrial Average for foodservice. We conceived of it about 10 years ago and implemented it on the local level to measure business in the metro New York area. We rolled it out on the national level about three years ago."

Posternak, who lives in the New York City area but identifies himself as "a transplanted Bostonian," is also a member of both SFM and HFM and, though not a member, an "active participant and attendee" at FCSI events.

"One of the benefits of being a rep in New York is that it's an intensely close, tight, dense market," he noted. "There is always some industry activity going on, almost on a weekly basis. We go to work Monday morning and we don't stop till Friday night, and if there's anything going on anywhere in this market, we're going to want to be there."

His 15-year-old company operates a branch office in upstate Albany, N.Y. All told, its 10 employees represent 15 client factories. Posternak remains a hands-on leader, serving as the firm's chief financial officer while he maintains contact with clients and oversees his staff of seven outside sales representatives.

Outside of work, Posternak has served for a decade as co-chairman of the foodservice division of the American Jewish Committee. He is also actively involved in school activities with his 16-year-old twins, Russell and Seth. He and his wife of more than three decades, Barbara, also have a 23-year-old son, Daniel, who works as a legal assistant.

Posternak and his family engage in what he termed "a tremendous amount of spectator sports." They are season ticket holders with the New York Knicks, Rangers and, yes, the Yankees, "even though I'm a die-hard Red Sox fan." They also attend the annual U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens, N.Y.

As for participatory sports, Posternak confessed to being "one of the industry's worst golfers. But I love golf, even though it's probably the single thing that I've done the most and accomplished the least with. I'm somewhat of a klutz when it comes to participating, and I think I compensate for my lack of natural athletic ability by being an avid spectator." He was quick to add, however, that all three of his sons "have exceeded my athletic accomplishments."

Posternak said he views his recreational activities "very definitely" as an escape. "I put in a lot of hours each week. I'm in it so intensely that when I take off from work I devote 100% of my focus to my family. When I leave the office, I lock the door and commute home. I generally will put my cell phone on silent mode and escape it for the weekend or the evening. I owe that to my children."

The Posternaks enjoy taking family vacations, usually to warm climates. "We love beach vacations," he said, "and anything to do with the water - fishing, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling."

Posternak said he brings the same life philosophy to work that he lives outside of it. "I like long-term commitments. I like consistency. I like to under-promise and over-deliver." That thought process is clearly evident in the company he runs, as well.

"I think there are basically three secrets, so to speak, to our success as a rep firm," he confided. "The first is that before becoming a rep I was vice president of sales and marketing for Traulsen [& Co. Inc.] for 12 years. In that capacity, I had the opportunity to work with some of the best reps in the business and I was able to collect best practices from many of them. When we hung out our rep shingle in 1988, we had a pretty good model to pattern ourselves after."

The second, Posternak continued, is that he tries to represent the best com-panies. "All of the factories we represent are 'A' lines, and together they are highly synergistic. All of our focus is on repping, 100%. We don't do any distribution, we don't do any installation, we don't do any servicing. We leave that to our industry partners."

Together with the third secret, "employing and partnering only with the very best associates," Posternak's common thread comes clearly into focus.

"I like things of quality," he concluded. "I like quality in my tastes, be it food or automobiles or any kind of personal purchase. I carry that same quality attribute to attracting quality lines and quality personnel."

Sharon Barasch and fiance Keith Agin enjoy traveling to visit family in Arizona, Illinois and Ohio.

Sharon Barasch cares - about her family and friends, her fiance, the clients her company services and a host of charities to which she devotes as much time as her schedule allows.

Barasch is co-CEO, along with her brother Bob, of Certified Service Center, an independent service agency based in Cincinnati. The 46-year-old company was founded by their father, Fred, and mother, Bert.

From 2000 to 2002, Barasch served as the Commercial Foodservice Equipment Service Association's (CFESA's) president. She remains on its board, though her term is scheduled to end in May. All told, she has been involved with the organization for 17 years.

Barasch also sits on the board of directors of the National Service Cooperative, a group of CFESA service companies of which she has been a member since its founding about a decade ago. In addition, she sits on the advisory boards of FE&S and NAFEM In Print magazines.

Once a month, Barasch takes part in a local CEO roundtable. "That provides me with an opportunity to network with other business owners to share best practices and bring issues to the table. I've been active with the group for almost a year now."

She is also involved in a project about which she is reluctant to speak too much. "One of the challenges we face, as I guess all businesspeople face today, is responding to the increasing complexity of operating a business," she noted. "It's becoming especially difficult for small business owners because we have to wear a lot of hats. We've been required to gain a lot of expertise in many areas that weren't even issues 10 years ago, such as human resources, legal responsibilities, new technologies, increasing customer demands and on and on. A group of people and I are currently working with others in the industry to share best practices and explore ways to leverage technology so that we can lower our costs and consistently provide high-quality service and improve our customer satisfaction."

And then there's life outside the office. Barasch is engaged to Keith Agin, a director of sales and marketing for Bridgestone Corp.'s credit card division. Though they have yet to set a date, in the meantime, she noted, "we travel a lot to visit with family in Arizona, Illinois and throughout Ohio. I try and get to a club to work out three days a week after work, to blow off some steam and get in shape."

As for her brother Bob, she added, "away from work, except for holidays, we really don't spend a lot of time together. But we have an excellent relationship. He makes a great business partner." Barasch visits with her mom every week. Her father passed away in 1976.

Being part of a family-owned com-pany means that business invariably seeps into family time, she noted. "I think it does inevitably, just being I'm a business owner. It's hard to separate your personal life from your work life when you are an owner of the 'store.' In a family business, any time the family is together we definitely discuss how the company is doing."

Barasch's leisure time activities include decorating, crafts, cooking and spending time with friends. "I listen to a lot of books on tape while I'm driving - business books," she emphasized with a laugh. "I keep in touch with my friends in the industry who are all over the country, and then with my local friends." She would also like to spend more time working on her golf game. "I'm not very good. That's one of my personal development goals. I'd really like to conquer that."

Barasch also volunteers her time for worthy causes. "There must be some web site out there that has my name next to my telephone number," she joked, "and it says, 'Call her and she'll do mailings for charitable contributions to her neighbors.' I think I have six of them sitting on my desk now, and I keep getting these calls asking me to mail to my neighbors. You've heard of the 'Do Not Call' list? They're going to have to create a 'Do Not Mail' list."

As if all that weren't enough, Barasch also regularly devotes a portion of her days to a couple of what she termed "favorite charities that, if I could find the time, I'd like to do more for. One of them is a shelter for battered women and children. The other is the American Heart Association."

She also became involved in running silent auctions years ago when she volunteered for the Northern Kentucky Restaurant Association, she recalled, "and I'd really like to do that again for them, too, as soon as I can find the time. That's one of my long-term goals."

You may also like...
Panini Stations: Panini Proves Popular
- September 1, 2005
2005 Dealer of the Year: The Boelter Companies
- May 1, 2005
2004 Dealer of the Year
- May 1, 2004
NRA Show Returns For 85th 'Performance'
- May 1, 2004
2003 Distribution Giants
- April 1, 2004
2004 Distribution Giants 91-100
- April 1, 2004
2003 Dealer of the Year, TriMark United East
- May 1, 2003
2003 Distribution Giants
- April 1, 2003
Dealer of the Year
- May 1, 2002
Simply Indispensable
- May 1, 2002
Copyright© 1999-2006 Reed Business Information, a division of
The Reed Business logo, Restaurants & Institutions, R&I, Chain Leader, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies and FE&S are registered trademarks. All rights reserved.
Use of this web site is subject to its Terms and Conditions of Use. View our Privacy Policy. .