Sargento Founder Honored by NFRA
The late Leonard Gentine, founder of Sargento Foods, will be the
posthumous recipient of this year’s NFRA Refrigerated Food Hall
of Fame, sponsored by the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods
According to NFRA officials, Gentine was an entrepreneur with true
spirit and motivation. Recognizing the popularity of Wisconsin cheeses,
he opened the Plymouth Cheese Counter in 1949 as a deli and mail
order gift cheese business. At this time, retail stores only sold cheese
in bulk packages, while Plymouth Cheese Counter sold smaller-sized
packages to consumers. In 1953, Gentine partnered with Plymouth
cheesemaker Joseph Sartori and the two launched Sargento Cheese
Co. The name was derived from a combination of their surnames with
an “o” added make it Italian sounding, since they focused on selling
Italian-style cheese products.
Marketing and merchandising innovations established by Sargento
under Gentine’s leadership include the peg-bar display system that
shows packaged cheese at eye-level and press-to-close packaging on
re-sealable packages. Gentine died in 1996, but his sons still work for
the company. Louis P. Gentine is chairman and Lawrence J. Gentine
and Lee M. Gentine serve on the board of directors. Grandson Louie
Gentine is CEO.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the National
Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Convention during the Membership
Luncheon on Monday, Oct. 24, at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel in
September 11-14, 2016 • Sheraton New Orleans Hotel • New Orleans, LA
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