Nanula Family (NANCO)

The Nanco Group (NANCO) was formed nearly 25 years ago after the sale of Tops Friendly Markets to Royal Ahold. Nanula family patriarch and former Tops Chairman and CEO, Savino P. Nanula, has worked with his four sons, Philip, Steven, Paul and Anthony to establish an entity which has effectively deployed family capital and human resources into a diverse set of holdings which includes Niagara International Capital.

NANCO holdings range from wholly owned and operated entities to passive investments, however the bulk of its holdings are companies and real estate where Nanula Family members have some level of activity. The legacy of the Nanula Family is Food and multi-unit retail related, so many of NANCO’s holdings are in the food, food related, consumer and retail sectors along with a growing portfolio of real estate holdings. However, NANCO has invested in technology, construction services, hospitality and other sectors where it feels management is strong and value creation opportunities substantial.

Niagara International Capital and its investment bankers, led by President and CEO Anthony Nanula, works directly with NANCO on engagements where NANCO is an investor and Niagara the investment banker. Nanula Family members often take board seats on companies NANCO invests in and Niagara provides advisory services to.

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Savino P. Nanula is a veteran supermarket entrepreneur, visionary, and world class operator. He is the retired Chairman and CEO of Tops Supermarkets and was a founder of the company. Savino’s career began at age 11, in 1941, cleaning meat blocks at the great Bear Market on Pine Avenue. By age 17, he was running his own meat market, where he was noticed by Armand Castalani, a local merchant who had visions of opening a supermarket. He offered Savino a partnership in what became Tops Supermarkets.

Savino had a storied career, going from cutting meat in the 1950’s to Chairman and CEO of Tops in the 1980’s Under his leadership, Tops became one of the most successful regional supermarket chains in America, with unprecedented market share and profits by industry standards. Tops was also a successful leveraged buyout (LBO) company in the 1980’s. Savino led four transactions in 10 years from 1981-1991, taking the enterprise value of Tops from $80 million to $450 million. Tops was sold to Dutch supermarket conglomerate Royal Ahold and Savino retired from the business.

He has been active the last 25 years, serving in many civic endeavors, as the leader of the Nanula Family (NANCO) on select private company boards, and most importantly as a Dad and Grandpa of 13.

Philip J. (Phil) Nanula is a veteran operator and chief executive in the consumer and construction industries. He started his career at age 14 working in the meat room at Tops Supermarkets. Before graduating high school he was a licensed meat cutter and was managing a meat department for Tops.

He soon moved to the corporate office first involved in a new department known as Operations Research, which conducted research and development functions for various areas of both retail and wholesale divisions. He was immediately placed on projects ranging from a warehouse/distribution center feasibility study, to development of the corporate apprentice meat cutter program. At that time, paper bags were only used at the checkouts and Phil was instrumental in development and implementation of the plastic bag conversion throughout the company. In 1983, Phil was promoted to a position created to develop new products, services, and concepts throughout the company. He worked as Director of New Product Development, sourcing perimeter and other dynamic new departments/programs for Tops. His major accomplishments include the Carryout Café, Captains Choice Sea Food, Butcher Block service meats, self-serve frozen yogurt, in-store video rentals, Photo Labs, and Hickory Smokehouse programs, to name a few.

Phil brought these and other programs to life at Tops from concept through full operation, developing operations manuals, product scope and standards, construction scope, theme and décor, among others. Departments and other concepts became a hallmark of Tops progression from a grocery store to full scale supermarket chain and was instrumental in the company’s success during the 1980’s.

After Tops was sold to Royal Ahold, Phil joined The Nanco Group (NANCO) in 1992 and immediately took charge of a startup family venture, Essex Homes of WNY, Inc. Essex was a newly formed homebuilder and developer, with very little infrastructure and lacking basic elements of success.

Phil harnessed the business, immediately producing profit at the construction level then scaling the company to establish itself in the Buffalo marketplace. Within a few short years, Essex was amongst the leading home builders in Western New York and Phil was cementing the company into the local landscape.

Today, Essex is a top three perennial home builder, having built in excess of 1,300 homes and successfully developing countless subdivisions. It is a leader in the area of customer service and satisfaction: often customers who later sell their homes make sure to advertise it is an “Essex built” home. Phil has served on the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Niagara Builders Association since 1992 serving in many roles including Chairman of the Public Relations committee for over 18 years.  He and Essex Homes have received many industry awards throughout the community both locally and nationally.

Phil also has led the family into the multi-family space with several projects in place or under way where Essex is building and partnering with other developers for property management and leasing. Phil also serves on the NANCO Board of Directors.

Phil is also active in several local charitable efforts, including chairing two major fundraisers in the WNY area, the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club Annual Dinner Auction, Children’s Hospital Pro-Am Golf Tournament Auction, and Kids Escaping Drugs Dinner Auction. Phil has raised over one million dollars for these causes. Essex Homes and the Nanula Family has also been a donor to Hospice for over 20 years.

Steven V. Nanula is a career consumer and multi unit retail expert, bringing over 40 years of experience in the supermarket, in-store marketing and consumer products fields.

Like his brother Phil, Steven started his career at 13 years old, working at Tops Supermarkets in the meat department. While still in high school, Steven earned credentials to become a meat cutter and was managing a meat department at Tops.

Moving to corporate, Steven later became a deli specialist and worked to revamp the deli program at Tops, helping to substantially increase sales and reduce costs. He then was tasked to lead an effort to bring scratch bakeries into Tops, creating the Bakers Choice bakery department. The department became an anchor of Tops’ emergence as a premier supermarket chain. From the success of the bakery program, Steven was tasked to develop a bulk foods department for Tops. Steven channeled his entrepreneurial skill set to conceive a dynamic offering that was the first in the country to bring retail consumer brands in bulk form to customers. He also saw the gourmet coffee wave coming and brought arabica bean coffee (beans and ground) to Tops in a bulk form, long before Starbucks was a national company. The Bulk Foods department became a national model and produced substantial additional revenue, profits and activity at Tops stores.

After the sale of Tops to Royal Ahold in 1991, Steven joined NANCO (Nanula Family) where he led several efforts related to the food business including dry goods distribution, specialty retail and restaurants. Ultimately, he formed an in-store marketing company that performed demo services to supermarkets.  This company became a leader in the eastern portion of the United States, eventually performing demo and other marketing services to more than 3,000 stores.

In 2008, Steven was named President of Paula Deen Foods, where he leveraged his packaged goods, retail and customer development experience.

Leading Paula Deen Foods, Steven took the company from a concept to a nationally branded program, developing and launching dozens of products across multiple categories. He was later recruited to lead Paula Deen Ventures, where as CEO Steven led all facets of the Paula Deen brand, media, publishing, restaurants, consumer and food products. Today, Steven serves a President of Paula Deen Ventures.

Paul S. Nanula is a veteran supermarket and convenience store operator, and currently serves as the President of The Nanco Group (NANCO).

Paul started his career at 14 years old, working at Tops Supermarkets in the dairy frozen department. By age 20, he was a dairy frozen Manager and shortly after an assistant store manager. Paul focused on store operations and ultimately became a District Manager, leading a dynamic district of some of Tops’ leading stores encompassing hundreds of millions in sales and thousands of store associates.

Paul left Tops in 1998 to lead The Nanco Group, NANCO. He worked to professionalize NANCO and also launched a branch of Raymond James Financial Services, providing financial services to NANCO and other clients. Paul was active in the financial services business until 2004 when he led an NANCO-sponsored effort to purchase Wilson Farms, the former convenience store subsidiary of Tops, from Royal Ahold.

In 2005, Wilson Farms Acquisition Group purchased the chain from Ahold, with Paul serving as President and CEO. Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co., Inc., a mid-market private equity firm, led the ownership, with Merrill Lynch and Audax Group serving as senior lender and mezzanine lender to the company, respectively.

As CEO, Paul successfully de-coupled Wilson Farms from Ahold, set up an entirely new corporate structure, managed a $25 million capital expenditure plan, revamped every aspect of store operations, and created a company substantially committed to the communities it served. His success resulted in a sale of Wilson Farms to 7-Eleven in 2011, enabling the ownership group and lenders to realize a substantial return on investment.

Since 2011, Paul has led NANCO and directs its private investments, most notably in the technology services and real estate sectors.

Anthony launched Niagara International Capital in December 2004, and serves as its President and Chief Executive Officer. He is licensed to perform investment banking and general securities services.

From 1988-1994, Anthony served as President of Nanco Enterprises, Inc., a New York based commercial and industrial park operator and developer. In his role with Nanco, he was responsible for co-founding North America Center, a 425-acre industrial and commercial park in Western New York. It exists today as one of the largest public/private (P3) real estate partnerships in New York State history. In 1992, he and his three brothers co-founded Essex Homes of WNY, Inc., a well-respected regional homebuilder that has built over 1,300 mid-market and upscale homes throughout New York.

In 2005, Anthony assisted his brother Paul to successfully lead a leveraged buyout of Wilson Farms, a subsidiary of Tops Friendly Markets, which was sold to 7-Eleven in 2011. Wilson Farms was a chain of approximately 200 convenience stores and was ranked as one of the 50 largest convenience chains in the country. In 2012, Anthony co-founded American Coastal Properties (ACP), a Southern California based luxury real estate development company. As Managing Partner, he oversees ACP’s activities in San Diego County.

Anthony also holds extensive experience in public service. In 1994, he was elected to the New York State Senate, and re-elected twice in 1996 and 1998. At age 28, Anthony was one of the youngest state senators ever elected in New York’s history. Widely respected for his strengths in fiscal policy, Anthony was elected Comptroller for the City of Buffalo in 1999. As City Comptroller, he served as a member of the Joint Schools Construction Board, which is responsible for school reconstruction/new construction for the City of Buffalo School District. In 2002, he was appointed as Deputy Comptroller for the State of New York, overseeing the Division of Local Government Services and Economic Development.

Anthony is a member of Gen Next, an executives group dedicated to solving challenges facing future generations in the areas of education, economic opportunity, and global security. He is also a former member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Anthony is a native of Niagara Falls, New York. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1988, earning dual Bachelors of Science degrees in Marketing, and Transportation and Distribution (Supply Chain) Management. He and his wife, Holly, live in San Diego, California with their son Savino, and daughters, Alexa and Isabella.