Edward Zimmerman is the founder of The Food Connector, a sales and marketing company serving the wholesale food industry. The Food Connector works with food manufacturers, distributors, restaurant operators and grocery retailers to plan and execute marketing and sales services. Born and raised in Baltimore, Md., Edward’s career in the food industry spans more than 35 years.
Edward began his foodservice career in 1974. He spent four years in restaurant operations and management. Edward then worked in the retail deli/bakery business, where he set up and managed in-store operations for a 14-store chain. He had a 13-year career in the wholesale bakery industry and then did consulting work for foodservice distributors and manufacturers for 5 years.
In 1996, Edward helped to begin a foodservice marketing group that became the largest pizzeria distribution network in the United States. Edward has possibly sold, marketed, and tasted more pizza than anyone in the United States over the last 20 years.
A dynamic speaker, Edward captures audiences with a mixture of fun, facts and personal challenges for improvement. A well-known and respected sales trainer, he has developed several programs for food sales representatives designed to increase sales and improve customer relationships.
Edward holds a B.S. in Economics and an M.S. in Administrative Management. He enjoys the outdoors, hiking, reading, playing the bass guitar and volunteering on behalf of organizations that feed the hungry.
Leonard Sbrocco has over 25 years of experience working for multiple media outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area, including as a Publisher, Ad Director, and Online Manager at various newspapers.
Since 2008, he has provided marketing expertise to more than 25 companies as a partner at Big Cat Advertising, where he specializes in online and email promotions. Previously, he was the Director of Business Development at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was responsible for creating and managing new products, generating $20 million in ad sales in three years.
He has had significant success marketing restaurants through innovative campaigns, such as specialty magazines and websites. Most recently, Sbrocco has focused on building sales through referral-based email marketing services and social media.
Sbrocco also co-founded a golf and travel website and was editor of a leading market research website. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and served six years as a U.S. Army officer.
Richard Leivenberg has a diversified background as a foodservice executive, public relations expert and business journalist.
As Executive Vice President of Jody Maroni’s Sausage Kingdom, Richard directed the sales and marketing of its original gourmet sausage offerings, managed brand development and turned a one-store operation into a nationally-recognized manufacturing and franchising company that included 25 locations. At Jody Maroni’s, his responsibilities included the management of wholesale distribution, corporate sponsorships, franchise sales and website development.
Prior to joining Jody Maroni’s, Richard ran his own public relations company which serviced a variety of restaurant, food, fashion, sports and consumer brands. With The Food Connector, Rich provides sales and marketing expertise to food brands and restaurants.
A graduate of UC Berkeley in Communications and Public Policy, Richard began his career as a journalist. In addition to a stint as Executive Editor of the California Apparel News, he has contributed to GQ, Business Week, Men’s Fitness, Harper’s Bazaar andLA Magazine. Most recently, his work has appeared on the websites Bleacherreport.com and Examiner.com.
Richard resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Lori Berger, a magazine editor. He also holds his California Teaching Credential and coaches youth baseball and basketball. An avid sports fan, he relishes his Saturday morning basketball games, playing golf and bodysurfing.
Ihor Dlaboha is a journalist and editor, foreign policy pundit, and currently a writer of two blogs: one about Ukraine and US foreign policy and the other for non-governmental organizations and small businesses.
Ihor Dlaboha served as editor of ID Magazine (Institutional Distribution) and its Internet version ID Access in 2000-09. Prior to that he launched the Ukrainian Broadcasting Network, the world’s first satellite radio and television network between North America and Ukraine. A graduate of the City College of New York and The New School, he is a former faculty member of The New School and Hofstra University.
Noah Alper is a consultant specializing in entrepreneurial strategy, and executive coaching. He is the author of Business Mensch–Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Entrepreneur. His experience includes concept creation, branding,marketing, retailing, and sales management.
A serial entrepreneur, Noah Alper is the founder of six ventures, including two mega-successful food businesses—the West Coast Noah’s New York Bagels chain and Bread & Circus, once the Northeast’s largest natural foods chain and now part of Whole Foods Market. Six and a half years after founding Noah’s New York Bagels, he sold the business for $100 million. At that time, it was the largest kosher retailer in the United States.
Noah has been a guest speaker at Google, the E2 Detroit Entrepreneur’s Conference, the “EO” Entrepreneur Organization, the League of Women Voters and many national and local business and community groups. He has been a guest lecturer at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the University of Wisconsin School of Business,UC Davis School of Management, Babson College, and a student advisor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BA in Economics, and grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts. He currently lives in Berkeley, California.
Steve began his career as a writer/artist with Hallmark Cards. Next, he moved into industrial / educational film production and design with an emphasis on animated short films. Steve returned to San Francisco and was hired as Creative Supervisor for American Analysis Corp. Later Steve was the advertising Art Director with Ketchum Communications and then was invited to join the packaged goods advertising group at Foote, Cone & Belding. His ad agency career moved to J. Walter Thompson where he was quickly promoted to Associate Creative Director principally on the Hewlett-Packard and Dole Foods brands. During the following 8 years, Steve’s advertising work garnered many accolades — including the prestigious Clio award for TV commercials promoting Safeway, Duraflame fire logs, Sea Galley seafood restaurants and the California Milk Advisory Board.
As an independent, Steve focused on many food brands including Bubbies Kosher Dill Pickles, the California Fig Advisory Board, Grocery Outlets, The Canterbury Hotel, Core-Mark, Sodexho USA and Duraflame.
Steve graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in Art. Steve is married to Colleen and has three children.
As an early adopter of social media and content, Allison Day has developed deep knowledge and experience in planning, managing and executing social media initiatives. Currently a content crafter, community champion as well as an avid alliterator, she’s passionate about creating the perfect online strategy for clients. A Californian by way of the Midwest, Allison lives and works in Napa Valley.
Allison published her first short story at thirteen and she’s since crafted content and strategy in both the social media and blogging realm in the form of ebooks and blog posts to social media copywriting and web pages with a focus in the food space and destination marketing.
Looking for a supplier of a scrumptious new pizza topping? Or a cheaper, safer, non-toxic cleaner/disinfectant for your hard surfaces? Philip Sorensen has over 25 years’ experience in the food industry. He has helped food manufacturers locate co-packers, contract manufacturers, and suppliers, as well as food technologists and technical experts who can solve challenging technical needs or help develop and expand new product lines.
Phil has worked successfully with several dozen food companies, from small firms like ancient-grains pizza specialist Smart Flour Foods (Austin, TX) and Bimbo Bakeries (Boboli’s), to large companies like Kellogg’s and Kraft-Heinz. Phil helped Kellogg improve the raisins in its Flagship Raisin’ Brand cereal, assisted McCormick Spices in the development and manufacture of its innovative Recipe Inspirations multi-pack spice product, and identified a supplier of a gourmet chicken sausage topping for a pizza manufacturer carried by Whole Foods.
Prior to helping co-found ATI, Inc., a small technology scouting and sourcing company, he worked on Capitol Hill for U.S. Representative Les Aspin (D-WI), and as an analyst at the Congressional Research Service. Prior to that, he worked as a Desk Assistant at the Washington, DC bureaus of Pacific News Service and ABC News.
Phil graduated from UC Berkeley with an A.B. in Political Science. He is an avid golfer, enjoys visiting Petaluma’s craft breweries, and plays acoustic guitar in a local church band.
For the past decade, Kristen was the CIO at TierSolution, Inc., managing client needs and a staff in the SF East Bay office, Bangalore, India, and consultants in Canada, Russia, Dubai, India, the UK, and across the US.
Kristen was the I.T. Liaison for Borden Capital Management Partners, the management team of Borden, Inc. (including Corning, Oxo, and Borden Foods)
Prior to Borden she helped roll out one of the first largest B2B integrations for Pepsico, Inc. (during its transition to Yum!) that managed real-time sales and run-rate analyses of costs and profitability among the chain restaurants.
Today she focuses on social media strategy and implementation with clients large and small.
Kristen graduated summa cum laude with a dual BA/MA in international business from Case Western Reserve University, Phi Beta Kappa, and is currently writing her first fiction novel.
A UC Berkeley engineering grad working over 20 years in Silicon Valley. Ron has had many rolls starting as a printed circuit board test engineering manager and working up to manufacturing program management for many companies, including Sun Microsystems. He has moved on from Silicon Valley and for the past six years has rekindled his passion for software design and development. Ron now brings his software and managerial skills to website design and development to the food industry.
Now with years of website development, Ron now specializes in WordPress theme development, hosting setup and security, site analytics and SEO, and all facets and tools to bring a customer’s website vision to life.
Ron loves to discuss website development, to mentor and to teach WordPress, and when time and weather allows is an avid golfer.