BY MIKE LEONARD
Tony Alongi laughs and says maybe it was just luck that he found himself in the right place at the right time to become the general manager of Bloomingfoods Market & Deli, a job he started on March 1.
A Detroit native, Alongi, 51, graduated from the University of Iowa, became a commercial bank officer, and then earned an M.B.A. from Indiana University in 1992. He went on to spend nine years in Europe working for General Motors and became the corporate giant’s finance director for its French operations. He returned to the U.S. in 2000 and for six years headed North and South American operations for Schunk, a German-based global industrial corporation. He turned to investment banking from there.
“Then I just fell into the food co-op world by accident,” Alongi says. In 2009, he took a job as finance director of the Hanover (New Hampshire) Consumer Cooperative Society, the nation’s second-largest and second-oldest food co-op. Last summer, his wife, Linda, took a job in nursing management at Baptist Health in Louisville, Kentucky. Alongi worked from Kentucky and commuted to New Hampshire before hearing about the Bloomingfoods position.
“I came up here a few days before my interview and was just shocked at the marketplace,” he says. “There is tremendous competition here and more coming. But I wasn’t looking to get on the Titanic. There are big challenges ahead, but there are things that co-ops do very well, and we intend to leverage our strengths.”
First, Alongi says, “There shouldn’t be anybody in this market that can out-local us. We should be the leaders in local food.” He adds, “We should be able to out-service anybody. Bloomingfoods wouldn’t be celebrating its 40th birthday this year if it weren’t for a lot of good and dedicated people.”
Alongi took an apartment in Bloomington and commutes to Louisville, mainly on weekends, to be with his family. Daughter Meredith recently graduated from Tulane University; son Franklin is completing his sophomore year in high school.
“I’m not a guy who hides behind his computer,” Alongi says of his management style. “I enjoy being in the stores, being on the floor, meeting people. I think we have a bright future ahead. We just need to do a better job at some things, including educating people about how co-ops serve their communities,” he says.