From the start, Posternak and Bauer grew the business rapidly through hard work, aggressive selling and literally hitting the pavement from dawn till dusk. "One of the beauties of the New York market is that although it's huge in size in terms of purchasing power, it's very small in terms of geography." Just 75 miles wide and about 100 miles long, it's easy for the team to travel from one end of the territory to the other in a day. Posternak is very active in a number of trade associations including SFM, AHF, FCSI, and other regional and national organizations.
Obviously, he does not do it alone. "I'm extremely honored to be receiving this award from FE&S, but I almost wish it was a company award because I am just one of 12 people at PBAC," Posternak says. "I may be the quarterback, but I really think if you can attract the best people to represent your company and surround yourself with great partners like Larry Cantamessa, David Aitkenhead, and of course Steve Bauer, that's how you really grow a business. My partners and associates are like family — we are all in this together, tooth and nail."
While most of PBAC's core employees have spent 15 to 20 years with the firm, Posternak continually works to recruit younger blood from within the industry and outside. "We have some newer employees that have joined us between one and five years ago, but finding and attracting new personnel is always a challenge." That said, Posternak's looked to mentorship and training to nurture newcomers over the long haul.
Part of this training — for newcomers and loyal employees alike — involves staying on top of the latest products and innovations. "We attend factory training sessions and bring dealers and consultants to our factories frequently," says Posternak, who also pays close attention to e-mail, webinars, YouTube videos and the myriad ways new product information and demos get disseminated these days. Attendance at trade shows and conferences is still a big part of that.
In addition, PBAC has partnered with a local, large food broker to share a test kitchen facility, complete with a 36-seat amphitheater and state-of-the-art audio and visual aids, to conduct product demos and host dealer sales training meetings. In the field, PBAC associates also use the latest technology, such as iPads, integrated sales software, videoconferencing and other online communication tools. The firm has earned MAFSI's highest technology certification as a result. Outside of the industry, Posternak remains active in various local charities and New York organizations. For the past 12 years, he's served as a member of the Partridge-Invitation Scholarship Foundation, a prestigious, invitation-only organization that raises money for culinary school scholarships throughout the East Coast, including Johnson & Wales, Cornell, and the Culinary Institute of America.
Looking forward, Posternak believes the future is bright for all segments of the industry. "Food is a very basic need and so there's always going to be a need for a strong supply chain to provide foodservice equipment," he says.
When it comes to the manufacturer's rep community, he wouldn't be surprised to see more mergers and acquisitions and an annexing of territories, including PBAC's own acquisitions. "With the merging this year of M&W and Associates in upstate New York, the new PBAC has become multi-territorial, spanning our reach throughout the Empire State and Northern New Jersey," says Posternak.
Another important aspect of PBAC's vision for the future includes setting up for growth in the long term. "We've placed a lot of emphasis on retention of key employees and putting a succession plan in place as we build a solid team around us," he says.
- Name: Michael Posternak, CFSP
- Title: President, Posternak Bauer Aitkenhead Cantamessa (PBAC)
- Hometown: Lawrence, Mass.
- Current town: Armonk, N.Y. and New York City
- Proudest accomplishment: Creation of the MAFSI Business Barometer
- Mentor(s): Harry Traulsen Sr. and Keith Paris
- Hobbies: Kayaking, walking, working out, spectator sports
- Favorite restaurant and/or food: Eastchester Fish Market and Lobster
- First job in foodservice: Eastern regional sales manager for Traulsen and Co. Inc.
- Favorite thing about being a rep: The constant competitive chase for more business
- Years in the E&S business: 37
- Education: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) BS in management science; Boston University (BU) MBA in marketing