NEW ORLEANS -- Ira Alan Kronenberg, vending industry pioneer and founder of CompuVend Inc. (Metairie, LA), died on Sept. 10. He was 75.
Kronenberg spent most of his professional life in the vending and foodservice industries. He began his own vending company in Tuscaloosa, AL, while in college in the 1950s.
The vending operator married Kay Siegel of New Orleans, where they resided for more than 53 years, and where he started another vending company, which was purchased by ARA Services (now Aramark). He worked at Aramark as a regional salesperson and general manager. He ran the foodservice and vending operations for Tulane University, New Orleans City Hall and the many factories along the Mississippi River, including Avondale Shipyard.
Kronenberg later joined Holiday Inn Foodservices in a similar management capacity. In the mid-1970s, he and his wife opened a sandwich shop in the New Orleans Central Business District. At the same time, having provided excellent service as an Aramark GM, he was asked by Avondale Shipyard to start his own company to operate its foodservice, vending and catering, so he started Food Management Corp. For over 35 years, FMC operated cafeterias, a central commissary and vending machines, and provided catering services and office coffee service at the shipbuilding company.
Kronenberg believed that automation was needed to help FMC run more efficiently, so he asked his son Mark to create computer software for the business. The software was so effective that in 1982 the father and son began CompuVend Systems Inc., which became the first company in the country to develop vending and foodservice software for the personal computer.
In 2009, Alan began his semiretirement from CompuVend, and Mark officially became president. Today, it markets the latest CompuVend vending management systems, RouteMaster handheld systems, WarehouseMaster inventory control automation and CashMaster coin-counting interface, among other industry software tools.
"Alan always enjoyed talking about vending, and helping operators and others in the industry," Mark told Vending Times. "He was always willing to hear about their problems and help them find solutions. And he always enjoyed going to trade shows, seeing his old friends and customers, and meeting new people."
Kronenberg was very involved in the vending and foodservice industries on a local, regional and national level. He was a founding member of Vending Machine Operators of Louisiana and Vending Machine Association of the Gulf South. He was also on the board of the National Automatic Merchandising Association.
"Alan was one of our most distinguished and supportive members," said NAMA chief operating officer Dan Mathews. "He really helped create the vending and foodservice industry as we know it today."
Alan's parents, Sidney and Harrie, started Alamat Vending in Birmingham, AL, in 1937, the year he was born. Both sat on the NAMA board, and Harrie Kronenberg was the first women elected to board of the association, which was founded in 1936.
Kronenberg served on the board of Food Service Executives, which provided scholarships and placement opportunities to culinary students. He volunteered with a variety of organizations throughout his life, but his favorite times were spent fishing, traveling and being with his family.
In addition to his wife, Kay, the vending industry pioneer is survived by children Mark Sidney Kronenberg and Michelle Kronenberg Bronston, and grandchildren Lindsey and Ryan Bronston, and Conley and Brenan Kronenberg. He is also survived by a sister, Lynn Kronenberg Berman.