Niemeier wrote from China:
"Our industry lost a real pioneer this week with the death of Bob Rich Sr. Due to shortages of dairy products caused by WWII, Bob brought the industry one of its first real convenience products: Rich's Whip Topping.
"The market's acceptance of this frozen food product also drove the expansion of cold chain logistics and marketing.
"He shared a passion with John Sexton and others for training and education. The latter did it mostly in-house and Bob did it through Community Colleges and the NRA Educational Foundation.
"I knew Bob to be the man that all of his legacy claims. Period. No exceptions. Bob walked the walk. While the term 'corporate governance' had not until recently been coined, Rich Products was always a model for honest trade practices.
"And we are a better industry because of Bob Rich Sr. May he rest in peace."
Rich in his home in Palm Beach, FL, on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
''For more than 60 years, Bob Rich Sr. has been a great motivator and the source of inspiration for our company and our associates around the world,'' commented William Gisel Jr., coo of Rich Products, which employs 7,000 people internationally with sales of more than $2.5 billion.
"It's hard to measure the impact Robert Rich had on the frozen food industry but suffice it to say his contributions are both monumental and legendary," said Nevin Montgomery, president and ceo, National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association.
Rich began his career in 1935 as owner of Wilber Farms Dairy in 1935. In 1945, while war food administrator in Michigan and with milk scarce, he began investigating the plentiful soybean and came up with a soybean-based whipped topping touted as better than cream because it could be frozen.
In 2004, Rich's made a significant pledge to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to establish the Robert E. Rich Aspiring Entrepreneurs Scholarship, which awards four scholarships each year to students pursuing careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry.