2009 Private Label Hall of Fame

In its March/April 2009 issue Private Label Magazine announced the Private Label Hall of Fame–Class of 2009 they included:

Joe Coulombe of Trader Joe’s

coulombeAs Joe Coulombe tells it, Trader Joe’s has gone through three significant makeovers in its evolution into what it is today.

Says Coulombe: “The concept of Trader Joe’s is difficult to explain, but let me put it into just one phrase:

“Trader Joe’s was designed by me in the 1960s and 70s to serve people who are over-educated and underpaid.”

Coulombe retired from Trader Joe’s in 1988. Previous to this, in 1979 he sold Trader Joe’s to Theo Albrecht, one of the co-owners of the Aldi discount chain based in Germany.

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Kenton Gast of Kroger
gast“We were one of the first retailers to support the new PLMA Trade Show,” points out Kenton Gast. “As I recall, the early PLMA Shows were held in hotel ballrooms.”

At the time, Gast was director of Kroger Brands procurement — a position he assumed in 1975 and held for eight years. In 1983 he was promoted to vice president of Kroger Brands procurement. “From the outset, I saw the PLMA Trade Show as an ideal place to meet my needs as a buyer of private label finished goods. It allowed me to make contacts among new private label manufacturers and to see new private label products coming onto the market. It was a place where I could pick up new ideas.”

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John Huffman of Fleming Cos.
huffmanJohn Huffman knows the private label food business — from start to finished goods.

Huffman began work in 1953 at age 18 in a Safeway private label manufacturing plant in North Texas. While working the night shift, he attended Southeastern State University where he earned a B.S. degree in Food Chemistry.

By 1969, Huffman had risen to become a general manager
overseeing five plants.

In 1970 Huffman joined the distributor Fleming Cos in Topeka, KS, and later moved with them to Oklahoma City.

“The reason Fleming recruited me was to help them vertically integrate their food supply chain. They bought every type of business including food manufacturing that they felt fit their business model of vertical integration.

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Don Spellman: Cornerstone of PLMA
spellmanDon Spellman is one of the founding members of the Private Label Manufacturers Association. He participated in the special meeting of industry representatives held at the Chemist Club in New York City on October 23, 1979, to form PLMA.

He served as the 2nd vice chairman of PLMA’s first board of directors that held its first annual meeting in St. Louis at the Marriott Hotel, March 27-28, 1980.

Career Path
Spellman began his career in private label manufacturing in 1952 when he joined the Eppens, Smith Co. one of the largest private label coffee and tea packers on the East Coast and based in Secaucus, NJ. ( Eppens, Smith at the time also owned the Holland House brand.) The company was founded in 1855.
He served as the company’s sales manager, and then served as the firm’s advertising and marketing director. Eventually, he worked his way up to become vice president of sales and marketing for Eppens, Smith. Through his position, Spellman dealt with coffee buyers for all the leading East Coast supermarket chains at the time—from Maine to Florida.

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Karl and Theo Albrecht of Aldi
albrecht-both2Karl and Theo Albrecht are co-founders of the Aldi chain of limited assortment discount stores, based in Germany. The brothers opened their first grocery store in 1948 in the Ruhr Valley and began operating under the name ALDI in 1962. The name is an abbreviation of Albrecht Discount.

Karl developed Aldi Süd, based in Muelheim, and Theo developed Aldi Nord, based in Essen.
Although Karl and Theo share the same store name — ALDI — the brothers have conducted their operations separately in northern and southern Germany both financially and organizationally, according to Dieter Brandes who during the 1970s was Theo Albrecht’s fugelman (meaning “wingman” in German or second in command.)

Read the entire profile…



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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.