Past Speakers

Our kick-off speakers have compelling stories to share. Meet some of them here:

Fred Alper, Morris Alper, Inc.

Fred Alper was third-generation president and later chairman of Morris Alper, Inc., one of the largest food brokerage companies in the country. Before that, he worked in the supermarket business in South America. He has an A.B. from Brown, an M.A. from the University of Washington, and an MBA from Harvard.

He retired at age 55, and has led an active life since. He immediately became chairman of a spin-off company from Morris Alper, became a Trustee at Brown University, taught Entrepreneurship at Babson College and to non-profit organizations nationally, taught Corporate Entrepreneurship in Central America, and taught Entrepreneurship to high school students in the inner city. He also joined Social Venture Partners, a V.C.-like firm investing in non-profit start-ups.

Later, he joined a partner in a small chain of gas stations and convenience stores, and was a founder of a company that provided services to early stage ventures. He is also an angel investor. Since retiring, Fred has sat on 16 Boards of Directors and Advisors. He is currently on 5 Boards, with another on the way. Fred is a grandfather of four, and makes room in his life for tennis, music, reading, and travel, and time with his wife.

Grant Bennett, CPS Technologies

Grant Bennett has held the positions of President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of CPS
Technologies since September, 1992. Prior to that time, he served as Vice President, Sales and
Marketing of the Company. CPS, an MIT spin-off, is the world leader in developing and
manufacturing metal-matrix composites for electronic applications. Before joining CPS,
Mr. Bennett was a consultant at Bain & Company, a Boston-based management consulting firm.
Mr. Bennett has an MS degree from MIT.

CPS embarked on a major initiative four years ago to implement “lean manufacturing processes”
throughout the Company. Grant Bennett will share lessons learned and some of the successes
and failures at this stage of the “lean journey”.

Todd Blount, Blount Fine Foods

Todd serves as President of Blount Fine Foods, a 5th generation company headquartered in Fall
River, MA. He has gathered and enabled a team of entrepreneurs to position the company for
today’s competitive environment. Blount Fine Foods is a Food Processing and Marketing company
that has won awards in the areas of Quality, Marketing and Business Growth. The company
produces gourmet refrigerated & frozen soup for restaurants and retailers nation-wide.

As Blount has grown, so has the owners’ need for a professional team to lead the business. This
was done through a combination of the development of internal staff and hiring from the outside.
Blount successfully developed its EVP of Sales from the inside, and hired a VP of Operations from
the outside. They are currently engaged in a search for a CFO.

Edwin Hastings, OHO Interactive

Edwin Hastings knew that the web had something to offer even before eBay arrived on the scene. He was one of the thinkers at the World Wide Web conference in 1994, presenting his ideas on how businesses could use the web to reach their customers. Ed has dedicated his career to helping companies move their businesses forward using technology. As managing director and president of OHO, he helps clients envision what the innovative and intelligent use of technology and the Internet can do for their organizations. OHO’s boutique size enables him to work one-on-one with clients as a strategic consultant, helping them to discover what’s possible and set actionable business goals. It also enables him to personally shape OHO’s talented professionals into a cohesive team that produce exquisite results for their clients.

Ed has 20 years of experience with IT services and Internet companies in research, business
development, and marketing as well as service and technology development and delivery.
As a founder, CEO, and chairman of Granitar he led the strategy that focused on serving the
financial services and publishing industries with Internet-based systems which enabled the
company to grow to over $20 million in revenue. As vice president of consulting at Onward
Technologies, he led the rapid growth of the organization by introducing a complete set of
marketing and technology services using the Internet. In addition, Ed has served as an advisor
and director to startups in the Boston area. He has a degree in computer science from
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Salvatore Lanuto, JJ Wild

Sal joined JJWild, a small manufacturing rep firm with revenues of under $1M, in 1991. He
became President in 1996 and CEO in 2000. Upon joining the company he directed major
strategy shift to leverage its long standing relationship with Meditech Information Technology,
one of the top Hospital Information Systems in the country. Refocusing the company on
healthcare IT integration, the company became Meditech’s largest integrator, growing top line
revenue to over $90M at the time of its acquisition by Perot Systems in 2007. Perot has since
been acquired by DELL. Just one year before, he orchestrated a company recapitalization,
partnering with private equity firm Advent International, and GE Capital.

Prior to joining JJWild, Sal was Vice President of Marketing for Esprit Systems Inc., a leading
manufacturer, seller, and distributor of computer terminals. Sal also worked at Hazeltine
Corporation, a defense contractor and developer of high tech systems for the government.
Sal earned his B.S. from Columbia University.

Sal has recently come out of retirement to direct start-up company Service Heartbeat.
Heartbeat provides software that enhances the use of mobile technology to improve
communications among healthcare providers in order to drive better healthcare delivery.

Pete Lescoe, Food Should Taste Good

Pete Lescoe founded Food Should Taste Good (Needham, MA) in 2006 with the goal of making a unique new snack with great taste, healthy ingredients, and sophisticated flavor–the qualities he is most passionate about in food. Today, Food Should Taste Good has grown to become one of the largest natural snack brands in the U.S., and makes natural tortilla chips in a variety of distinct flavors such as Sweet Potato, Lime, Olive, Chocolate, Multigrain, and Jalapeno. Food Should Taste Good’s product portfolio also includes kettle cooked sweet potato chips and other natural snacks.

Food Should Taste Good was recently acquired by General Mills. Lescoe will continue with the business as creative director. “I’m proud of the rapid growth and success Food Should Taste Good has achieved, and I look forward to working with Small Planet Foods and General Mills to continue this momentum,” said Lescoe.

Paul Nardone, Immaculate Baking Company

Paul Nardone is CEO of Immaculate Baking Company (Wakefield, MA), which specializes in gourmet all-natural and organic baked goods made from scratch. Previously, Paul managed and built two other consumer brands in the food business, serving as CEO of Stirrings and Annie’s Homegrown, Inc. During his tenure at Annie’s, the company grew its sales and product offerings, and its commitment to kids, education, and the environment.

Under Paul’s leadership, Immaculate Baking Company has become known for its imaginative cookie flavors and folk art-decorated packaging. Focusing on refrigerated cookie dough, the company has created gluten-free, organic, and natural varieties, including limited-edition seasonal flavors, such as Chocolate Peppermint and Gingerbread Spice. According to Paul: “Our company’s philosophy is to ‘create, create, create!’ This culture of innovation can be seen on our
packaging and tasted in our recipes–it literally influences every facet of our business.” The company also supports education efforts with giant cookie fundraisers, and features works of American folk art on every package.

Jerry Shafir, Kettle Cuisine

Jerry Shafir founded Kettle Cuisine in 1986. He started small—very small. To make fish stock,
he went to the Boston fish pier to get fish racks (what remains of a fish after filleting). To
meet customer deadlines, he personally delivered soup to restaurants as far away as Vermont.
Early years were precarious, but since 1994 the business has grown and been profitable every
year. Revenue is now over $60M per year, and Kettle Cuisine supplies refrigerated and frozen
soups and sauces to restaurants and retailers throughout the U.S., especially in the northeast.
See http://www.kettlecuisine.com.

In the summer of 2011, Jerry announced that Kettle Cuisine had entered into a deal with Arlon
Capital Partners.

Bradford S. Sterl, Rustic Crust

Brad has been a frequent participant at our CEO gatherings. He has been in the restaurant/food
business most of his life, buying and selling restaurants, then as a partner at New Hampshire
based Foodee’s Franchising Inc., and later president of the franchise company overseeing its
rapid East Coast expansion. In his executive capacities, Brad spent a lot of time on the day-to-day
requirements of running a successful business. However, his first love has always been in the
kitchen developing fun and unique recipes. To that end, by1996 he was easing himself out of
his franchise responsibilities and forming Ever Better Eating, Inc. – now known by its national
brand name, Rustic Crust.

His Rustic Crust prebaked pizza crusts and American Flatbread frozen pizzas are available
in 7,000 stores nationwide. Brad will kick off discussion about raising early equity money at
our May 29 CEO Gathering. Since Brad founded his company in 1996, he has raised equity from
friends, angels, and three venture capital funds. He’s also gotten venture debt, capital leases,
bank term loans, a line of credit, and state-backed lending.

 

 

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