Bill Kelly is a 30-year veteran of the foodservice industry who began his career with Libbey Glass in 1980 as an account manager in Seattle and in 1981 was transferred to the Midwest. He founded his own manufacturer’s rep firm in Chicago in January of 1985 before relocating to Seattle in 1988. Currently Bill and his partners Jim and Dave Mincks run an independent manufacturers’ rep firm that covers the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Hawaii.
FE&S: What keeps you working in the foodservice industry?
Bill Kelly: It has got to be the people I have met and the relationships I have been blessed to be a part of during my 30-plus years in the industry! No question — that has been the best part.
FE&S: You have 30 years in the business. Do you ever think about retiring?
Bill Kelly: I don’t see myself retiring per se. We’re not going to sell our home, move to Florida and play golf three times a week. That’s almost like a death sentence to me. But I am really interested in doing more with my church and other charitable activities. I also want to make more time to be a better friend to those close to me. I’m looking to give back a little more. My priorities are different now that I have grandkids — I spend a certain amount of my time now caring for and being involved with them, and I really enjoy that.
FE&S: Share with our readers a little more about your current charitable activities?
Bill Kelly: As I mentioned, my wife Jane and I are active in our church. We’re very involved in small groups and helping out with youth ministry. We also prep for meals at an annual youth camp where we cook for 300 people. We’re financially involved with World Vision, but we’d like to be more active physically in global outreach, like doing more short-term mission projects. These projects aren’t so much about preaching to people as much as they are about digging wells and building houses, that sort of thing.
FE&S: Do you have any interesting hobbies?
Bill Kelly: Well, I do spend a heck of a lot of time skydiving. For the last 18 years, since I started jumping at 41, I’ve done roughly 2,200 jumps. I’m also a tandem master so right now my main emphasis is taking other people jumping. I got into this because our oldest son was on leave from the army. He was in the 82nd Airborne Division and had jumped out of military planes and we sort of had a bet. We took a static-line class and that’s how it started. I just kept going back.
|Bill Kelly after one of his 2000+ skydiving jumps.|
FE&S: So you willingly jump out of airplanes?
Bill Kelly: And I get paid for it. That’s the interesting thing. But really, whatever money I get from this goes straight to the mortgage on our house. I like riding motorcycles, too. I’ve been doing more off-road motorcycling lately.
FE&S: Apparently you enjoy living on the edge?
Bill Kelly: I do like to push the limits a little bit. But I’m constantly praying when I’m doing it!
FE&S: Looking back on your career, what gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Bill Kelly: That’s a hard question because there were many moments when I have felt good about what I do. But a huge highlight was being named by FE&S’ in 2007 as Top Achiever Manufacturer’s Rep. I remember the day Joe called me and I was blown away. What an honor.
Another thing I’m proud of, and this doesn’t have to do with my job, but I’m proud to still be married to my wife Jane after all these years. We’re coming up on 33 years and I think that for a long time she put up with a lot — raising three kids with me being gone often. I spent a lot of time working in the early days, maybe out of a fear of failure. But I’m glad we were able to get through that together.