Join us for the 3rd event in our Founders Series - a CFBN series presented in partnership with CA Branding, Fifty Gazelles, and PreBrands. This 5-part series of events focuses on creating conversations and connections for founders’ from the growing and scaling companies of the Chicagoland start-up food scene. The Founders Series combines food, cutting edge conversation, and a bit of networking for a happy hour well spent.
This 3rd event in the series will explore the question: "To Co-Pack or To Self Manufacture...which is best for your business?" There is also a big difference between finding a co-packer and find the RIGHT co-packer - join our panel of founders and experts to explore what path is best and how to find the right relationships to grow your business best.
Our speakers & moderator for this conversation:
Steve Gaither (moderator), SVP Creative & Branding, CA Branding
Steve Gaither is the SVP of CA Branding (formerly JB Chicago), a division of CA Fortune. CA Branding is a creative and marketing agency focused on consumer brands whose clients range from larger companies like Smithfield Foods and Tetrapak and emerging brands including Real Good Foods and Protes. As a mentor at the Good Food Business Accelerator, ICNC and The Hatchery, his relationships with the entrepreneurs led him to co-found the Windy City Troublemakers, an early-stage food brands group in Chicago. Steve was formerly a partner in Spiral Sun Ventures and Windy City Food Brands, where he and his fellow CPG experts provide the operational know-how and go-to market strategies that help brands accelerate their growth. Steve graduated from Ball State University (1994) with a degree in Architecture and Planning. He resides in Munster, Indiana with his wife and three children.
John Geocaris, Managing Director, New Food Strategies
John Geocaris is the founder of New Food Strategies. He is an accomplished food industry executive and led his own food company, Little Lady Foods, as it grew from startup to over $250m in sales, a staff of 1,000, and three production facilities. As a customized co-packer of frozen food products, Little Lady Foods successfully commercialized over 100 products, managed numerous national product rollouts, and worked successfully with some of North America’s largest consumer, private label and foodservice customers.
William Madden, Co-Founder and CEO, Whole Brain Consulting
As a highly respected senior food industry consultant, William Madden brings 20+ years experience in the field of outsourced operations and entrepreneurship to the table. Starting with a degree in business management from Georgia Tech, Madden began his career with five years at Nestlé and five years at Little Lady Foods, working as an account manager. He then invested time learning the ins and outs of the industry first as the director of new business development at Hearthside Food Solutions and later as a key account manager at Fonterra. He founded Right Brain Consulting, utilizing his deep knowledge of the food industry to negotiate contracts between food companies and co-manufacturers, and started a candy company, Dulce Foods, all the while dabbling in the manufacturing and selling of sandwiches and managing the lucrative operation in a handful of hours each week. As Madden’s influence in the industry grew, he merged Right Brain Consulting with BJH Food Safety, which now operates asWhole Brain Consulting. Whole Brain Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in outsourced operations in the food industry, operates from offices in Chicago and Boulder. From supply chain and operations management to food safety, quality, and regulatory compliance, Whole Brain Consulting utilizes the cumulative expertise of over two dozen industry experts to solve problems for rising food companies. Madden is a renowned thought leader, writer, and presenter recognized for consulting in the rapidly changing food industry partnership between suppliers, co-manufacturers, co-packers and food companies. In addition to authoring “Separating the Con Man From the Co Man: How to Source a Contract Manufacturer,” Madden has contributed to the forward movement of the industry through multiple avenues and has served as an advisor and mentor to emerging food companies.
Peter Cokinos, COO & Executive Vice President, Palermo's Pizza
Mr. Cokinos has been Palermo’s Chief Operating Officer / Executive Vice President since 2016. Responsibilities include sales leadership of the retail, club, deli and foodservice channels, commercialization, marketing, supply chain, quality, transportation and customer service. Prior to taking the role, he was General Manager and Executive Vice President of Grecian Delight Foods. His experience in various roles in the food industry also included roles as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Little Lady Foods (Miracapo) and regional director for Domino’s Pizza. Mr. Cokinos has served on various boards in the food industry and attended DePaul University where he majored in Marketing. Past Associations- Board Member International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (2009-2011)-(2016-2018), Board Member American Frozen Foods Institute, Board Member and Past President National Frozen Pizza Association.
Mike Weglarz, CFO, 87P and Field + Farmer
Mike Weglarz is the CFO of 87P, a leading contract manufacturer of plant-based, clean label foods. Over the last 3 years at 87P, he has helped launch over 30 food and beverage brands and brought hundreds of new products to market. With a strong background in investment banking and finance as well as an MBA from Chicago Booth, Mike brings a quantitative and strategic approach to food manufacturing and brand building, guiding young brands as they scale their business. As an avid foodie and health conscious consumer, Mike seeks to disrupt the food industry one innovative product at a time.
We will also be joined for a brief presentation, by:
Patrick Anderson, CEO - Ox Bottling
Patrick Anderson founded OX Bottling with the vision and commitment to proactively provide job opportunities to our local community. Patrick worked as a leader and practitioner of continuous improvement for several corporations, including P&G, Nestle USA, Unilever, and Conagra. He has re-engineered dozens of factory operations to achieve millions of dollars in savings. Patrick received his BS in Chemical Engineering from Florida A&M, and his MBA in Marketing from Xavier University – Williams College of Business. His past leadership positions include manufacturing operations, capital project management, and continuous improvement. Now a 20+ year veteran of the manufacturing industry, Patrick has combined all of the industry’s best practices to build a company that brings revitalization and development to the community, by working with the community.
Networking events with The Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network are an opportunity to access an inclusive network dedicated to bringing together all of the industry players of the greater Chicagoland area to develop meaningful and mutually beneficial business connections. The event provides a great opportunity to enjoy drinks and appetizers and an opportunity to mingle - forging new connections and circling back with contacts from other events, all while experiencing the power of the CFBN network!
This event will also feature samplers from the following companies:
Happy Hour beverages and light refreshments will be provided.
We appreciate the support of our event sponsors, Proven Partners Group & Tilia Holdings.
The Founder's Series is presented in partnership with:
CA Branding is a Food & Beverage Industry Provider member of the network.
Pre Brands is a Cornerstone Food & Beverage Industry member of the network.
Fifty Gazelles is a Food & Beverage Industry Provider member of the network.
PMMI is a Supportive Industry Partner of the network.
CPA is a Supportive Industry Partner of the network.
Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network
1 W Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603
Tel (312) 525-9653