WOOSTER, OHIO — Alfred S. “Al” Kober, 72, retail director for Certified Angus Beef LLC, died on April 17 after a brief illness. He passed away at his home in Oley, Pa., surrounded by his family.
During his 58 years in the retail industry, Mr. Kober became a respected authority on meat merchandising, promotions and food safety. He treasured his role as an educator and as a servant to fellow retailers. He is remembered for his faith, integrity, energy, passion for the industry and his caring and kind leadership.
In 1952, Mr. Kober entered the retail business at Clemens Supermarkets, in Kulpsville, Pa. He moved up the ranks to assistant meat manager in 1964, meat and deli manager in 1969 and meat supervisor in 1973. While serving as Clemens’ meat director, he launched a close-trim program for all meat cuts, years before the practice became an industry norm.
In 1996, Mr. Kober found a beef brand that aligned with his goals and ideals for pleasing Clemens’ consumers. The same brand later led him to a career change after 50 years with his hometown retailer. Not interested in retirement, Mr. Kober accepted a position as retail director for the Certified Angus Beef brand, for which he had previously consulted.
During eight years with the company, he channeled his retail experience into providing customer-driven merchandising, training and marketing programs. His focus on the “customer first” helped retail stores nationwide grow from a combined 24 million lbs. in sales per month in 2002 to more than 30 million lbs. per month in 2009.
Mr. Kober served on several industry committees, including the planning committee for the American Meat Institute/Food Marketing Institute Annual Meat Conference; National Pork Board’s Retail Advisory Committee and Safety Committee; and the National Grocers’ Association workshops on food safety. He was also an active speaker, sharing his retail knowledge and stories at numerous supermarket conferences and conventions.
Mr. Kober was a frequent contact for media in the retail and beef cattle industries. He shared thoughts on his career, food safety and the beef industry in this 2005 “Five Minutes with Al Kober” at CattleNetwork.com.
Mr. Kober is survived by his wife of 53 years, Judith (Heinly) Kober, his father, A. Stanley Kober, nine children, 21 grandchildren and four siblings. His mother, Victoria Barnes Kober, preceded him in death.
A well-loved Adult Bible Fellowship teacher at The Chapel, Green, Ohio, he was an Elder at his previous church in Pennsylvania.
A memorial service will be held at The Chapel, 1800 Raber Road in Green, Ohio, at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 30, and another will follow later at New Life Bible Fellowship Church in Oley, Pa.