Farewell to a friend and leader

Seth Mendelson
Publisher and Editor in Chief
Seth Mendelson profile picture

A lot of people think they are the smartest person in the room.

Brian Sharoff, the longtime president of the Private Label Manufacturers Association, actually was.

Sharoff passed away after a short illness at age 77 in late May. He will be remembered for that intelligence, as well as for having an intense passion and strong determination to improve everything he touched. This includes the many people who worked for him, and with him, to the association that he led from its earliest beginnings and for nearly 40 years to what it has become today — the leading voice for private label and store brands in the country and, perhaps, the world.

Click to read the June issue

In the June issue, we asked people from his association and the industry to say some words of tribute about Sharoff. The response was overwhelming and, unfortunately, we could not put all of them into the print story, despite the fact that we kept expanding it, eventually to six full pages.

As you will read, most said that they lost a dear friend. He was a person of character, with a broad awareness of his surroundings, history and current events, who could rattle your brain with facts and figures. Yet, at the same time, Brian could make even a stranger feel like they were chatting with a friend from their childhood.

Of course, there was the other side to Brian — the side I knew only too well. Professionally, he put the needs of the PLMA, its employees and its many members ahead of everything else. Many times, I interviewed him, only to have the interview turn out to be him grilling me, making a point that I never even knew existed. Many times, the angle I started with became an angle that he ended with — always to make me and readers of the magazine more aware of the potential of the private label category.

PLMA will survive this devastating loss. Brian created a strong structure, a succession plan and a team of professionals who know what they have to do to keep the ball rolling.

As it should, the association plans to move ahead with its two big shows, in Chicago in November and Amsterdam in December. But, it is going to be hard to find another Brian Sharoff, simply because they don’t make many people in that mold. He is going to be missed by many, many people.

Bang the drum slowly.

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