To have earned the trust of John Vozzo is one of the great accomplishments of my professional career. I am privileged, then, as both a mentee and a trusted friend, to share some words on an industry icon retiring this month.
Throughout his career, John Vozzo has conducted himself the way in which we should all aspire to. He shows unwavering integrity, by treating every stakeholder with respect. He rests one’s reputation on their word. He rewards loyalty. Above all, he harnesses the responsibilities he has earned to forward the agenda of those most deserving.
You’d be surprised to know he just happened upon foodservice. After serving in the military, he answered an ad in the paper for a buyer in 1974. He credits the hire to an interviewer who took a liking to his MGB sports car, or “sheer coincidence”, but I think anyone who has worked with John knows better.
For 10 years, a passionate, energetic and very well-dressed young man worked his way up the ladder at Edward Don & Company. Late nights and weekends were a cornerstone of John’s routine up until this column went to print. He was so respected by his peers and the industry, that when John took an interview with Henry Singer, some of Henry’s first remarks to John were, “I thought you’d be taller!” (He and I both give ourselves a few extra centimeters when claiming a height of 5’7”.)
In 1984, John left the industry kingpin to join a dealership that, at the time, had less than 30 team members and only serviced the greater Reading, Pennsylvania region. He prepared to work alongside visionary Henry Singer to build the foundation for Singer Equipment Company as it stands today. With no guaranteed business in the Philadelphia or South Jersey markets, the team purchased, constructed, and laid out the plans for a 75,000 square foot warehouse.
John recalls walking through the warehouse on a Sunday when Henry questioned, “You really think we need something this big?”
John Vozzo had a plan. He always does. John is calculated, methodical, and comprehensive. His office may appear overwhelmed, but he is never. Just like his workspace, John is full of history, stories, and detailed records. Need advice or to borrow a highlighter, John has both to offer, in abundance.
John’s entrepreneurial spirit thrived in his new environment and just a dozen years after construction was completed, the business outgrew its home and was ready for a new headquarters in Elverson, Pennsylvania. The vision to become the leading dealer in Philadelphia, and beyond, had manifested.
As a generational shift occurred, John stood by Singer. Fred Singer stepped into the role of President with a focus on our contract sales division and John continued to lead the distribution business with broad autonomy and trust from ownership.
John served on practically every industry board and committee during this time and earned the respect and admiration of the foodservice community. If a man is judged by the company he keeps, then it’s quite clear Mr. Vozzo has done very well for himself and for the Singer family of companies.
“John’s career demonstrates the importance of relationships in our business, with vendors, customers and co-workers. John’s vision and character are imprinted into the DNA of Singer,” says Fred Singer.
It’s now time for John to move out of the house he spent his whole life building, words he speaks when reflecting on a tenure of commitment. However, because of John Vozzo, our structure is sound and our foundation is strong. A plan is in place.
“They say, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. To me, it’s a never-ending relay. It’s time to pass the baton to continue the race,” he says.
Please join me in congratulating John on his retirement this month.