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Ray Foley

About Ray Foley

Who was Ray Foley and how did he impact the convenience distribution industry?

From the time he came to work for the National Candy Wholesalers Association (NCWA) in 1951 as the editor of the association magazine, Ray Foley had essentially made the candy industry his life. Throughout his work at NCWA, he held various positions, including that of director of publications, exposition manager, executive assistant and executive secretary.

Mr. Foley assumed the office of Executive Vice President of the NCWA on January 1, 1971. He was elected to the position by the NCWA board of directors during the annual summer convention in Washington, D.C. the previous August.

He succeeded C.M. McMillan, who retired after serving as the association’s chief executive for 25 years. Mr. McMillan continued to serve the association on a part-time basis as the director of the Advisory Council of NCWA Presidents.

For the next dozen years, Mr. Foley would repay the Board’s firm and full support with strong, steady progress for the association. As NCWA President Stanley Berman, Runnemede, N.J. puts it, “he guided our association as if it were his own personal business” solidifying NCWA’s financial bottom line, expanding its services, and widening its span of influence and prestige.

Mr. Foley made it a personal goal to build strong, open relationships with all elements of the confectionary industry and to strengthen the bonds of communication and cooperation between NCWA and other organizations allied with confectionery distribution. He made the concerns of the candy wholesaler his concerns, and he treated the needs and interests of all wholesalers equally – whether the companies involved were massive, multi-million-dollar corporations or one-truck jobbers. One of his primary skills was a natural ability to absorb the requirements of a constantly changing and diversifying industry, placing each individual need within the proper perspective of the whole.

In developing and expanding NCWA’s programs, he placed the highest priority on maximizing the benefits for the membership and the industry in general. He was a man not easily swayed by demands or pressure, nor was he one to jump on the bandwagon of a trend or cause without careful consideration. Equally aware of NCWA’s organizational limitations as he was of its potential, he guided its growth with a prudent decisiveness that kept it moving steadily forward with a minimum of stress.

He was quick to praise, slow to anger, and swift to downplay his own contributions to any success. Aggressively self-effacing, he viewed his role as an association manager as one in which he worked to make the members, not himself, shine.

And shine they did. During Ray Foley’s years as NCWA’s managerial head, its programs and activities continued to progress at a healthy pace. Each year, both the summer and winter conventions drew greater participation, and their exposition halls expanded. So did promotional programs like National Candy Month and the organizational operations.

A graduate of the University of Chicago, he held a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and did post-graduate work in communications at Northwestern University.

He was a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and other professional organizations concerned with the field of association management.

Ray Foley gave most of his life, and much of his considerable ability, to help bring NCWA, now CDA, to the position it holds today. He missed by his friends, family and colleagues, but he leaves behind a legacy which we hope was one he wanted – a strong, vital association with many more years of growth ahead of it.

Sources: National Candy Wholesaler magazine; NCWA/CDA archives