In late 2003, the sanitary supply industry saw three respected jan/san executives — all from the southeast part of the country — pass away. Each man founded at least one successful company and each left a lasting impression on employees and customers alike.

Robert J. Poffenbarger, founder of two companies — Poffenbarger & Associates and Wepak Corp. — died on November 25. Due to his foresight and management of both companies, Poffenbarger was able to retire early. Poffenbarger & Assoc., one of the first manufacturer’s representative groups in the southeast, and Wepak Corp., a private label chemical manufacturer, both exist today. Poffenbarger’s son is now head of Poffenbarger & Assoc., and his son-in-law manages Wepak Corp. Both businesses are located in Charlotte, N.C., although Poffenbarger retired to Charleston, S.C., where he kept abreast of industry issues and continued to attend many International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) trade shows.

Clyde Lafayette Hunt Sr. passed away on December 14. Hunt was a WWII veteran and founded Hunt and Co., Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of commercial cleaning chemicals and equipment, with his wife, Jessie, in Greensboro, N.C. The original company — in addition to another company he started, Chem Station of N.C. — is now managed by second- and third-generation Hunts.

Joe T. LaBarbera, who founded All-Brite Sales Co., Jacksonville, Fla., with his partner, Ira Jakes, in 1954, died on December 25. He was a longtime member of the ISSA, the Triple S distributor network and the Florida Sanitary Supply Association (FSSA). LaBarbera is survived by his wife, Christine, and sons, Marty, Jerry and Randy, who will continue the operations of the company.


Dave Thornton, CEO of Blue Eagle Industries, a Haymarket, Va.-based distributor, recently had the honor of being present as President Bush signed HR2297 into law in the Oval Office.

The new law requires federal agencies and departments to give special consideration during federal contracting and procurement to businesses that are owned by disabled veterans. In 2002, disabled veteran-owned firms received only 0.13 percent in federal contracts.

Thornton was chosen to witness the historic signing because he is a disabled veteran and small-business owner.

Peter Holt, managing director of Truvox International, a British manufacturer of floor care and carpet machines, attributes the company’s recent success in the United States to its acquisition of Cimex, a manufacturer of specialty floor machines.

“The large number of sales leads that we received clearly signaled the market’s interest in our user-friendly, high-productivity machines,” said Holt.

Holt grew the Cimex distributor network into several key territories and appointed Todd Jordan of Cimex USA as the sole importer.


Scott Zurich was recently appointed vice president of operations for National Chemical Laboratories, Philadelphia. He has worked and managed for some of the largest chemical producers in the United States. In addition, David Jones and James Siragusa have both been named regional sales representatives. Jones will cover Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and Siragusa will cover Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Gerald Scully was recently named plant manager for EX-CELL Metal Products, Franklin Park, Ill. Scully comes to EX-CELL with 19 years of experience in manufacturing — both on the executive and the plant-management level. He will be responsible for the plant’s purchasing, receiving, inventory, production, safety, maintenance and shipping.

Brian Beach was recently appointed vice president of sales for Armchem International Corp., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Beach is a specialty maintenance product specialist and sales veteran, having spent the last 18 years as south Florida and Caribbean territory manager for Amrep Inc. of Marietta, Ga.

Dewey Kelley recently joined Clark Foodservice as division president of its Louisville, Ky., division.