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Veteran supermarket meat industry executive Alfred S. “Al” Kober, 72, who most recently held the position of retail director for Certified Angus Beef, LLC, died at his home in Oley, Pa., on Saturday, April 17, after a brief illness. During his 58 years in the retail industry, Kober became a respected authority on meat merchandising, promotions and food safety. He treasured his role as an educator and as a resource to fellow retailers, and is remembered for his faith, integrity, energy, passion, and caring and kind leadership.
Kober entered the retail business in 1952 at Clemens Supermarkets, in Kulpsville, Pa. He moved up the ranks to assistant meat manager in 1964, meat and deli manager in 1969, and meat supervisor in 1973. While serving as Clemens’ meat director, Kober launched a close-trim program for all meat cuts years before the practice became an industry norm.
After 50 years with his longtime supermarket employer, Kober accepted a position as retail director for Wooster, Ohio-based Certified Angus Beef, for which he had previously consulted. During eight years with the company, he channeled his retail experience into providing customer-driven merchandising, training and marketing programs. Kober’s customer-first focus helped grocers nationwide grow from a combined 24 million pounds in sales per month in 2002 to more than 30 million pounds per month in 2009.
Frequently quoted in Progressive Grocer and other trade publications, Kober also served on several industry committees, including the planning committee for the AMI/FMI Annual Meat Conference; the National Pork Board’s Retail Advisory Committee and Safety Committee; and the National Grocers’ Association workshops on food safety. He was also an active speaker, sharing his retail knowledge and stories at numerous supermarket conferences and conventions.
Kober is survived by his wife of 53 years, Judith (Heinly) Kober; his father, A. Stanley Kober; nine children; 21 grandchildren; and four siblings. His mother, Victoria Barnes Kober, preceded him in death.
He was a well-loved Adult Bible Fellowship teacher at The Chapel, Green, Ohio, and an elder at his previous church in Pennsylvania.
A memorial service will be held at The Chapel, 1800 Raber Road in Green, Ohio, at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 30, 2010, and another will follow later at New Life Bible Fellowship Church in Oley, Pa.