Gold souls

Since 1957, the Food Industry Association of Canada has each year awarded the Golden Pencil to retailers and suppliers for lifetime contributions to the industry.
Vince Scorniaenchi

Michael McCain

Golden Pencil recipient Michael McCain, photographed by Jason Gordon

Michael McCain, CEO, Maple Leaf Foods

Michael McCain carries the name of one of Canada’s most famous foodmakers. But it is his transformation of another that is his lasting mark. McCain, 58, grew up in the french-fry McCain company of Florenceville, N.B., founded by his dad, Wallace, and uncle, Harrison, in 1957. Young Michael never considered anything but working in food. He started as a territory rep, eventually becoming president of Mc- Cain USA. A family split led him and his dad to Maple Leaf in the mid 1990s.

A decade later McCain, by then chief executive, began a massive overhaul of Maple Leaf to make it competitive with American meat giants. More than $1 billion was spent to update plants and distribution. Grocery insiders credit McCain’s action for ensuring Maple Leaf’s long-term viability, and for his handling of the deadly listeriosis outbreak at a Maple Leaf plant in 2008. By taking public responsibility, he showed his “moral compass to do the right thing,” one grocery executive noted.

McCain, whose charitable work has included the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and SickKids Hospital, credits his employees for Maple Leaf’s turnaround. “Thousands of Maple Leafers were committed to this action. It was a team effort.”

Vince Scorniaenchi, EVP, Fortinos

As a youngster, Vince Scorniaenchi tagged along with his uncle, John Fortino, to buy produce at the Ontario Food Terminal for Fortino’s shop in Hamilton. “We’d go at 4 a.m. I just loved the vibe down there and the action.” A few years later, in 1972, Vince’s dad bought into Fortinos, and 12-year-old Vince began working at the store.

As Fortinos grew into a chain of supermarkets from Hamilton to Toronto, Scorniaenchi moved up the ranks. Today he’s executive vice-president of Fortinos and fresh food at Loblaw (which bought Fortinos in 1988), and he now oversees a chain whose 23 stores are much admired by suppliers, customers and competitors.

Fortinos is something of a groundbreaker in grocery formats. It added a natural foods store-within-a-store in the 1990s, long before the category was fashionable. And it was ahead in HMR. Its 10,000-sq.-ft. Pane Fresco prepared foods area was one of the first true grocerants. Scorniaenchi, 58, is also big on community involvement. Each Fortinos franchisee supports local community activities and Fortinos has raised millions for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. “I got turned onto the grocery business at a young age,” he says. “I still love it.”

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