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by Michael Sansolo

In an industry of thousands of stores, millions of people, billions of transactions and a constantly changing environment, how can any one person make a difference? Ask Lou Scudere.

Scudere, the vice president of real estate, research and site development for KVAT Stores, has a great reputation for his abilities. Yet, he knows none of that would have happened without John Kugele.

When Scudere began his career as a research analyst at Malone & Hyde 25 years ago, he had the great fortune to have Kugele as his boss. The two men, both the products of large working class families, meshed almost immediately. And just as quickly, Kugele began passing his knowledge to his protégé.

The lessons were simple, but profound. It was about commitment to the customer, in this case the Piggly Wiggly retailers served by Malone & Hyde. It was about the vague science of site selection and the ability to read the flow of a community to make certain stores ended up with every possible advantage. It was about passion for the industry, the customer and the job well done.

“To me and John, research was a way to provide the little guy with an opportunity to level the playing field against larger companies. We had the passion and we spent their (the retailer’s) money as if it was our own,” Scudere said.

The relationship was so strong that when Scudere (who rose to assistant vice president of retail development for Piggly Wiggly) decided to change jobs, Kugele counseled him and blessed his choice of KVAT. (KVAT was led at that time by Jack C. Smith, who became yet another great role model to Scudere.)

Earlier this year, Jack Smith passed away. Then this summer, John Kugele a 34-year veteran of the industry who worked at Stop & Shop, SUPERVALU, Pantry Pride and Malone & Hyde succumbed to cancer. Scudere, a good friend with whom I’ve done many projects through the years, says he hoped somehow to have Kugele remembered.

It sounds like Kugele guaranteed that 25 years ago, when he took Scudere under his wing.

Sometimes a story needs no additional commentary, beyond this: If you have a mentor you’d like to celebrate, send us a paragraph about how that person influenced your career. We’ll share as many stories as we can.
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