Farmer Jack's new president, Marvin Biltis.
Heading The House
That Jack Built
Supermarket maven Marvin Biltis takes the helm of
Borman Inc.'s Michigan grocery store chain
ew Detroiters knew about
Marvin Biltis' arrival last
summer as president of
Farmer Jack, but supermar-
ket shoppers throughout
southeastern Michigan immediately
felt his impact.
As one of his first duties, Biltis,
46, former vice-president of the
Montreal-based Steinberg's . food
chain, reinstated double coupons at
"That was my welcome to
Detroit," says Biltis, described by
friends and associates as a hands-on
business leader who quickly rose in
his career from one of many market
researchers with Steinberg's to vice
president of marketing in 1977 to cor-
porate vice president. He spent 27
years with the company, one of Mon-
treal's largest food chains.
Other metropolitan area super-
market chains followed Farmer Jack's
lead — just as they did earlier in the
year when Farmer Jack stopped issu-
ing double coupons.
The fast action is typical of Biltis,
who was Steinberg's youngest vice
president when appointed as
marketing vice president in 1977.
Despite Biltis' fast move on dou-
ble coupons, other splashy changes
are not in the works at Farmer Jack.
Rather, Biltis plans to run the chain
with a more subtle approach.
"I strongly believe in evolution
rather than revolution," he says.
Paul Borman, 55, chairman and
chief executive officer of Borman's,
Inc., who previously served as Farmer
Jack's president, says he hired Biltis
so he could step aside and devote more
time to community activities. Bor-
man says he also wanted to put a
younger man into Farmer Jack's
helm. Borman has known Biltis for
more than 10 years.
Borman says he wanted a new
president for Farmer Jack because
"one has to always think about mor-
tality and Marvin is a young man
who has sufficient years ahead of him,
so that there could be a relatively
Borman sought out Biltis, who
says he was ready to move into a new
job. Farmer Jack, Biltis says, provid-
ed "a challenge, for one thing. I spent
a good few days with Paul Borman
and felt that I could work with him
and that the opportunities in Farmer
Jack were such that my particular
strengths would lend themselves to
them. It looked like a good fit."
Biltis says he brings "skills in
marketing and administrative
Borman says he was impressed by
"the fact that Marvin was acquainted
with our organization and our people
and that he had done well in his
previous endeavors" at Steinberg's.
Borman does not single out his
commitment to community activities
as the reason for hiring a president
for Farmer Jack, saying, "There are
always things that come up that one
has to weigh his time on:'
Yet Biltis notes that Borman
wanted help in part because of the
time he devotes to the Jewish Welfare
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.
Borman, co-chairman of the 1989
Allied Jewish Campaign, also does
volunteer work for other community
organizations. "Certainly that weigh-
ed on it. He certainly told me that
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS