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Tea & Coffee men of the year.

Tea & Coffee Men of the Year

If there's a coffee producing nation that hasn't seen Steve Gluck, it's a rarity, Gluck's career has had him checker boarding from one continent to another.

Steve Gluck, born on February 11, 1930, started his coffee career with coffee importer, Otis McAllister and Company in San Francisco, California, immediately after graduating from Stanford University. Gluck certainly started his trade from the ground up as he started in the sample room and the telex room. He was shortly rewarded with a sales position in the St. Louis, Missouri area until he was placed in charge of mill operations in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. He returned to San Francisco as assistant trader and the following year was named assistant manager in San Pedro Sula operations and then moved onto Guayaquil, Ecuador. In 1954, he was named assistant trader at Otis New York. He was promoted to trader and worked on both sides of the continent - San Francisco and New York. Gluck once again returned to Central America as manager of the Guatemala operations of Otis until he returned to San Francisco as trader in 1959.

Gluck left Otis McAllister and joined California Milling in San Francisco in early 1962. Shortly thereafter, this became the West Coast office of Imperial Commodities Corp. where he was active in trading and sales until 1967, when he transferred to New York as assistant vice president.

From 1969 to 1971, Gluck served as president for coffee trading house, Suplicy Inter-American. He returned to Imperial Commodities Corp., in 1971 and served as executive vice president manager of coffee until 1974 when he was named president of the company.

Gluck served for 10 years as president of Imperial and then joined Cargill Coffee in 1984 as executive vice president. From 1987 through 1989, he served as managing director of the coffee division of Cargill UK Ltd. in London. In 1989, Gluck returned to the States as president of Cargill Coffee Department of Cargill, Inc. which is now situated in Liberty Corner, New Jersey.

Gluck has served for many years in the industry associations. He is a past director of both the Pacific Coast Coffee Association and the Green Coffee Association of New York. He also served as treasurer, vice president and president of the Green Coffee Association of New York. He is presently a director of the National Coffee Association and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and serves on the board of the Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange. He has also written several articles on the industry for the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal.

Steve and his wife, Kay, have seven grown children. When staying in the U.S., they spend their weekends in Connecticut. Steve considers the coffee business to be more than just his livelihood. It is also his personal avocation. No one who knows him is surprised at all.


Dr. Ernesto Illy's name is familiar not only to the trade but to consumers worldwide as most people are acquainted with the home espresso brewer.

Dr. Illy is the president, managing director and general manager of Illycaffe S.p.A., in Trieste, Italy, where the company manufactures both home and foodservice (horeca) espresso and coffee brewing machinery.

Dr. Illy received his Ph.D degree in chemistry from the University of Bologna in 1947 and stuns his peers with his complete command of English, German, and French languages as well as speaking Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.

Born on July 18, 1925, Dr. Illy started his coffee career in 1948 where he was an inspector in Italy and Switzerland for the Italian Illycaffe and the Swiss sister company which manufacturers all the precision parts that comprise the espresso machine. In 1956 through 1963, he became the co-owner and manager of the Trieste Illycaffee and administrator for the Swiss company, with the specific task of developing sales. In 1963, Illy was appointed president, managing director and general manager of the company.

Dr. Illy is recognized by governments and the world coffee industry for his extensive coffee science knowledge. He has participated in many research seminars, international conventions and lectures. He was the founding president of ASIC (Association Scientifique Internationale du Cafe) in 1965 and has served as vice president and president and now currently serves as vice president.

He was also the founding president of EUCA (European Union of Coffee Associations) in 1967 and served as president for the years 1967-1971 and 1973-75. He is a past president of the AIIPA (Italian Association for Food Products) and for the CIC (Italian Coffee Committee). He has been an advisor since 1966, serving as president from 1971-1974. He is a past ICO/CIC delegate and has been a coffee consultant to the EEC and FAO. He was also a past president of the PEC (Physiological Effects of Coffee).

Dr. Illy is married to Anna Rossi and has three sons and one daughter. Ever so immersed in his work, his home is alos in Trieste, where Illy has their headquarters.

Says Dr. Illy, I foresee espresso following a trend similar to the popularity of wine in the U.S."


Abraham M. Mwangi has done much for the Kenyan coffee industry in a short amount of time.

Born in 1946, Mwangi started his coffee career in 1978 when he started his own exporting and roasting company. He has been commended by the trade for being the first African to own a successful 100%-owned coffee company and for helping initiate other Africans into their own businesses. He is the managing director of Raki Investment Co. Ltd.

Mwangi has been representing coffee farmers in the capacity of chief coffee delegate from 1980. He has financed farmers meetings field days and has assisted farmers by urging the government to assist in government loan schemes where some category of farmers have been left out. Mwangi has urged the farmers to rehabilitate their coffee farms and through his insistence, a demonstration plot has been set up in Kitale and a coffee warehouse transit store will be set up in Kitale.

Mwangi was appointed director of the Coffee Research Foundation (CRF) board in 1984. Previous to that time there had been industrial relations problems which culminated in several strikes by employees. Mwangi was instrumental in advising the board on how to handle the issue and keep the situation under control. Mwangi later became chairman of the board in 1988 and has since cultivated a good and peaceful industrial relations atmosphere at CRF. The staff has hailed him as a progressive chairman.

Mwangi served in the Coffee Research Advisory Committee (CRAC) of the CRF board from the time he became a board director. He has continued to attend CRAC after he was appointed chairman of the CRF Board in 1988. His contribution to CRAC has been instrumental in initiating projects on Biological research programs. In particular, Mwangi has been instrumental in initiating projects on Biological Control of insect pests and vegetative propagation of the resistant variety Ruiru II. As a result of these programs, the coffee industry now stands to benefit by saving the country foreign exchange equivalent to KShs 20,800,000/- per year by not importing fungicides because of the use of Ruiru II. Also Kenya uses insecticides worth KShs 12,000,000/-. Therefore, the use of parasites and predators introduced as a research program would save Kenya the foreign exchange involved by avoiding importation of insecticides.

Mwangi has also been chairman of the finance committee of the CRF. During his chairmanship of the committee and of the board, the CRF has been able to utilize funds properly in capital expansion. For example, the CRF built three laboratories between 1985 to-date. These laboratories are now used for: multiplication of seed for the resistant variety Ruiru II; soil and leaf analysis for farmers only; and an agricultural engineering workshop for use in coffee processing work. All this expansion has made the CRF progress well in research.

As a Coffee Board member since 1985, he has promoted Kenya Coffee worldwide, and in particular Japan. Mwangi is also the chairman of licensing and advisory committee of the Coffee Board of Kenya. He has helped to devise a process of decision making within the committee and has promoted greatly with the participation of indegenous coffee dealers.

The Coffee Board of Kenya feels that Mwangi has provided valuable advice on farm management and also in the nursery level and transportation.

The farmers and the Coffee Board have found a remarkable friend and leader.


He's often been called Canada's Mr. Tea, but this man has weathered more company takeovers in one lifetime than a cat has lives - well, almost as much.

Rigg, born on March 21, 1941 in Wigton, Cumbria, England, began his career in 1958 with Liebig's Extract of Meat Co. Ltd. in London. He relocated to Canada where in 1962, he was affiliated with Oxo Foods Ltd., rising up the corporate ranks as the company itself also rose in stature, (being acquired by Brooke Bond). In 1974, Rigg was appointed to the board of directors of Brooke Bond and was the youngest director to be appointed to any Brooke Bond board in the world.

Rigg served in several high level positions for Brooke Bond in Canada's major cities until his appointment to president and ceo in 1978. During his tenure there, he was responsible for restructuring the company into several divisions, placing emphasis on internal growth. The company introduced many new products, discontinued several operations, modernized the tea production plants despite a difficult labor environment, recruited new management and moved the company headquarters to Toronto. Company sales in 1985 approximated $200 million with earnings at record levels.

During his years with Brooke Bond Inc., Rigg also became chairman of Brooke Bond Foods Inc. in New York which specialized in the selling and distribution of Red Rose tea.

Rigg joined Redco Foods, Inc. in Hauppauge, New York in 1985 following its creation by the late John G. Edwards as president and co-owner. Redco was founded to acquire the long established Red Rose tea distribution business following the takeover of its parent company, Brooke Bond, by the Unilever organization.

In 1988 Redco acquired the Salada tea interests in the U.S. and Canada from the Kellogg Company. During the process of merging the tea businesses, Redco's founder and co-owner, John Edwards, died of a sudden heart attack. Rigg assumed the position of chairman & ceo and concluded the creation of Salada, Inc. in Montreal, Canada. He served as chairman of Salada, Inc. for 1988/89.

Inevitably, one of the consequences of the tragic death of John Edwards was a need to restructure the ownership of Redco. This was accomplished in January, 1990 when Redco divested its Canadian tea packing operation to Thomas J. Lipton (Canada) and, at the same time, purchased the interests of the Edwards' Estate. Rigg is now sole owner.

In 1990 Redco has been especially active in the food service sector, developing a new venture - The Tea Spectrum - a joint sales company which brings together Red Rose, Salada, Stash Tea (Portland, Oregon), and two entries from Premier Brands, U.K.; Ridgways teas and Heath & Heather herbal teas. The company has also relocated its sales and corporate offices to Windsor (Hartford), Connecticut.

Rigg has contributed his time and effort to many trade and community organizations, as well as guest lecturing at several universities. He has been active in tea trade groups for 20 years. A past chairman of the Canadian Tea Council and a former director of the U.S. Tea Association, he is a current director of the U.S. Tea Council.

Rigg's personal life has been said to evolve around airports and wagers are routinely taken to determine the amount of years he has spent in an airplane. Married to Margaret Wendy Marr, they have two sons and one daughter, all currently enrolled in universities. They make their home(s) in Naples, Florida, Toronto and Avon, Connecticut.


Rokus Van de Meeberg needs no introduction to the universal tea industry as he has been touted as the sage of the tea trade.

Van de Meeberg, born July 15, 1908 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, began his tea career as a junior tea taster with Van Rees (Rotterdam) in 1923. He continued his trade with the company for 50 years. During that time, he traveled extensively through almost every tea consuming and producing country. Van de Meeberg says, "It was the decolonization of the old tea producing countries and the enormous growth of world production and tea exports that were the impetus to set up buying/exporting subsidiaries for Van Rees (Overseas), while at the same time develop re-export and distribution on a grand scale from Van Rees (Rotterdam).

Van de Meeberg served as president of the Netherlands Association of Tea Importers & Exporters for many years. He also served on the board of management of the International Tea Committee in London. From 1974 until 1988, he served in the capacity of secretary general of the European Tea Committee. During his tenure, he attended most of the sessions of FAO/UNCTAD (Intergovernmental Group on Tea) in Rome, Geneve, etc., spoke at many tea functions and contributed numerous articles to the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal.

After having served Van Rees for half a century, Van de Meeberg retired from the company in 1974 when he was knighted, Officer in the Order of Orange Nassau. Finding it impossible to leave the tea trade after so many years, he joined tea importer, Vriesthee b.v. Rotterdam as managing director in 1975. Van de Meerberg continued with the company until his retirement in 1988.

Van de Meeberg is still keenly interested in the tea trade and is one of the few people to have experienced and written about 65 years of tea trading. Ready as ever to spout statistics, Van de Meeberg informs us that world supplies of black tea rose from 375,000 tons in 1923 to 814,000 tons in 1965 and 1,638,000 tons in 1988. World imports of black tea totaled 340,000 tons in 1923, 575,000 in 1965 and rose to 996,000 tons in 1988. For those years, the U.K. accounted for 185,000 tons in 1923, 233,000 tons in 1965 and unfortunately 165,000 tons in 1988. North America accounted for 73,000 tons in 1923, 86,000 tons in 1965 and 118,000 tons in 1988.

We thank Rokus Van de Meeberg for his never-ending thirst for tea statistics and for sharing his knowledge with us.


Born on October 25, 1910, Tadao Ueshima has developed a giant coffee conglomerate, all from the founding of a single coffee store in 1933 which imported and wholesaled coffee, tea and supplies for coffeehouses (kissatens). The store was re-organized into a joint stock company, named Ueshima Coffee Co. and Ueshima served as president thereof until 1980 when he assumed the office of chairman.

Ueshima Coffee Co. currently imports and manufactures coffee, tea, cocoa, canned foods and other products. They also produce foodservice items as well as design, manage and guide coffeehouses throughout Japan. The company holds coffee estates in several producing countries, operates coffee shops (foodservice) as well as operating 149 retail shops for roast bean and ground coffee. The company has also established a coffee museum for the public in Japan.

Ueshima established many subsidiaries of the company with Japan-America Foods Co., Ltd., in 1962; Sea of Amakusa Tourism Co. Ltd. in 1967; UCC Bottlers Co., Ltd. in 1969; Yurakuen Ltd. in 1972; UCC Vendor Co., Ltd. in 1975; UCC Bell Mate Co., Ltd. in 1981, as well as several other companies.

He was the founder of the Kobe Coffee Traders Cooperative and assumed the presidency from the organization's inception in 1947 until 1965. He is a past president of the All Japan Coffee Association which was then reorganized from a voluntary organization to an incorporated body.

Ueshima serves as director of the General Reserch and Study Center on FoodService Industry as well as a counselor of the All Japan Coffee Association. The number of organizations Ueshima has participated in are just too numerous to publish and the man has received numerous awards from governments, organizations. The most prestigious of his awards include: merit of contribution to the food sanitation at Expo '70 by the governor of Osaka Prefecture; an invitation to the Spring Garden party held by His Majesty the Emperor and Her Majesty the Empress for acknowledged achievements in the coffee industry in 1973; the Pedro Alvarez Cabral Decoration by the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, for merits of contributions to the promotion of Brazilian coffee in Japan in 1976 as well as the Manuel Mejia Coffee Meric Decoration by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia for Colombia coffee promotion in Japan in 1976, and the Blue Ribbon Medal by His Majesty the Emperor for distinguished service to the Japanese coffee industry in 1976. In 1982, he was also decorated the Third Order of the Sacred Treasure by His Majesty the Emperor.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:coffee and tea industry executives
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:Biography
Date:Dec 1, 1990
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