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Plenty of warmth in Cologne: Editor Bernie Pacyniak reflects on ISM Life Achievement Award ceremony

American Herm Roland Sr., of Jelly Belly Candy Co., receives the honor

Bernie Pacyniak and Herman Roland
Editor-in-Chief Bernie Pacyniak and Herman Roland Sr., Chairman of the Board, The Jelly Belly Candy Co., pose after Herman receives the ISM Life Achievement Award. 

Hard to believe, but here I am at ISM in Cologne, Germany, walking about with just a sports coat. Granted, I´m basically getting in and out of cabs, but you can tell it´s a mild — really mild — winter here when you can see green grass and flowers.

Of course, this is coming from someone who left Chi-beria (Chicago) last Friday, a place where temps sank to -16 F. Hence, my perspective toward cold is certainly different. 

Bernie
Bernie Pacyniak

But there´s a different kind of warmth here in Cologne, as well, one that encompasses the global confectionery industry and ISM. Oh yes, in case some of you aren´t familiar, ISM is the annual confectionery and snack fair — the largest in the world, mind you — held in Cologne each year at the end of January.  We´re talking 1,476 exhibitors in six halls from 68 countries, mind you.

This is my 13th ISM as editor of Candy Industry, and each year it leaves me energized and invigorated about working within the global confectionery industry. This year is no exception, thanks to having the ability to meet with a broad range of executives and managers I´ve gotten to know on a personal basis.

Although getting around the Koelnmesse exhibition center took a little longer for me this year —I had my knee replaced in August, but need a hip replacement to restore full mobility — I hobbled about to the best of my ability.

This year, the organizers of ISM decided to present a “Lifetime Achievement” Award, to recognize someone for “exceptional services” in the global confectionery and snack sectors. Having received the invite a few weeks before the event — held Sunday evening following the first full day of the fair— I RSVP´d and then simply filed away the info in my ISM folder.

On that Sunday, I discovered that several key executives who I know personally — such as Ulrich Zuenelli, chairman of Loacker, and Patrick Poirrer, Cemoi´s ceo — were members of the jury that selected the recipient.

I even happened to ride the shuttle bus with Poirrer to KolnSky, the office building near the Koelnmesse that has a wonderful venue for receptions on the top floor. Despite some good-natured poking and probing about the process and who the winner would be, Poirrer remained mum about specific details.

Upon getting to the top floor, it didn´t take that long for me to connect the dots. Seeing Sal Ferrara there reinforced the idea that it would be an American receiving the award. And then when I saw Herm Roland Sr., and members of his family, Lisa Brasher and Herm Jr. as well as Bob Simpson and Bill Kelley, it all fell into place.

Given Herm´s body of work in the confectionery industry, one that encompasses both domestic and international successes, he was an obvious choice. Moreover, there´s a German connection: Herm´s great-grandfather and founder of the company, Gustav Goelitz, was a German immigrant.

Not that his family history played any role. The Jelly Belly bean is known and enjoyed throughout the world. So is Rowland´s larger-than-life personality, which is epitomized in the company´s creative approach to flavor development as well as its commitment to product quality and ongoing embracement of evolving technologies.

So who else to introduce such a personality than another larger-than-life candy man, Sal Ferrara, head of the Ferrara Candy Co.? Although Ferrara had prepared remarks, he opted to go off the cuff — as I understand it, there wasn´t a light on the podium — reminscining about how Rowland got down and dirty with a new mogul that was just installed at Ferrara´s plant as well as how a difference of opinion between the two at a National Confectioners Association meeting resulted in an overturned table. No worries, moments later the two hugged and moved on.

Rowland was clearly moved by the presentation. And it was wonderful for not only the Jelly Belly Candy Co., but for the entire American confectionery industry that one of ours received the first ISM Life Achievement Award.

Indeed, one could feel the warmth in Cologne. 

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