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Murry Kalinsky celebrates 50 years with Advantage Solutions — and a lifetime in retail

Michael Browne

While 50 years may sound like a long time, when you’re doing something you love, time just flies by. So says Murry Kalinsky, a customer sales manager in the metro New York area for Advantage Solutions, whose winding path through companies later acquired by Advantage began in 1973.

“It’s been 50 years at companies that became part of Advantage,” he says, “but a lot longer than that in the grocery business.”

Talking to Kalinsky is like getting a lesson in supermarket history in the Northeast U.S. — or a nostalgic trip back if you’re old enough to remember some of the chains and companies he’s been associated with.

His resume reads a bit like an ‘in memoriam’ tribute to grocers lost to time – or at least absorbed into larger chains that dominate the landscape today.

Kalinsky’s career in grocery has been nearly lifelong, beginning with his first job in the late 1950s at Daitch Shopwell grocery. The regional metro New York chain was later acquired by A&P and formed the basis of today’s The Food Emporium stores.

After working his way up to manager and later into the buying office of Shopwell, Kaminsky in 1963 left to join the Prince Macaroni Co. — famous for its ubiquitous TV commercials claiming ‘Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day’ — doing direct-store-delivery sales for First National Stores. First National, whose name would eventually be shortened to “Finast,”  would be absorbed by Ahold in 1988.

But Kalinsky was long gone by that time, having left Prince Macaroni for food broker Sidney Becker Associates in 1973, marking the beginning of his Advantage career.

Kalinsky spent the next 13 years at Sidney Becker, and in 1986 the company merged with Pezrow, one of New York’s largest food broker organizations. That company was later acquired by Advantage Solutions.

And now, here we are 50 years later. (On September 6, to be exact.)

In his current role, Kalinsky calls on Krasdale Foods, one of the largest grocery distributors in the metro New York area, servicing regional supermarket chains such as C Town and Bravo, as well as more than 2,000 independent grocers along the Eastern Seaboard.

The key to his success and longevity? “I treat people with respect, and I ask for it in return,” Kalinsky says. “That’s true in business, and in life.”

His colleagues are quick to confirm.

“Murry has shown exceptional dedication, drive, passion and, importantly, heart in all that he does on a daily basis to bring success to all the customers, clients and associates he has touched over these past five decades,” says David Jaret, sales team leader, metro New York. “Simply put, he has made raving fans of everyone he has worked with.”

Kalinsky, Jaret says “has been a great mentor to so many of our younger, as well as older, associates, and I count myself among those he has shown the way. Murry will always ask for more to do, always with both a smile and a warm word.”

Jeremy Hyland, senior director of sales, metro New York, is grateful for the example that Kalinsky has set within the organization and with clients and customers in the market.

“I’ve been lucky enough to work with Murry these past six years and am grateful for everything he’s done for our team as well as for the friendship we have forged,” Hyland says. “He has spent a lifetime immersed in the food industry seeing the evolution of brands, category management, supply chain, robots, internet, one-hour delivery and on and on. To say it’s been ever-changing is an understatement. What hasn’t changed is Murry’s outlook on our industry — he loves it because it’s all about the people. And so is Murry.”

His work in the industry and the reputation he’s developed over the decades has not gone unnoticed. In 2020, Kalinsky was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Friends of the Food Industry for 65 years of dedicated service. It’s an honor he calls one of the biggest highlights of his career.

But it’s not just about the honors or awards, he says. “I have stayed in this business all these years because I love what I do, and Advantage has always been fair with me.”

Kalinsky, a native New Yorker who lives in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, also credits his wife Miriam, or “Mickey,” for a good part of his success. “She knows everybody and everything about the business, the customers, the stores, and is a great partner when we go out to industry events,” he says.

Congratulations to Murry Kalinsky for 50 years with Advantage, and a lifetime in the grocery business.