National Food Truck Association Board of Directors
CEO and Co-Founder of SoCalMFVA
Matt Geller is the Co-Founder and CEO of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association. The SoCal MFVA is a non-profit organization that represents upwards of 130 mobile vendors in California. The SoCal MFVA has successfully expanded the rights of mobile vendors in over 25 jurisdictions in Southern California while working cooperatively with Health Departments to improve their regulatory frameworks and enforcement mechanisms. In 2012, Matt co-wrote an article titledThe New Food Truck Advocacy: Social Media, Mobile Food Vending Associations, Truck Lots, & Litigation in California & Beyond, published in the Chapman Nexus Law Journal, and a forward to David Weber’s The Food Truck Handbook, the first handbook for prospective truck owners.
Matt is known from coast to coast for the assistance he has provided to numerous groups of mobile vendors seeking to replicate the ‘Association’ model, having assisted New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Central Ohio and Baton Rouge in establishing advocacy organizations, just to name just a few. He has considerable experience working with municipalities and health departments nation-wide. Matt has lectured and presented on food truck regulations to city, county and state governments.
Matt has recently partnered with multiple food truck associations to start the National Food Truck Association. The National Food Truck Association will support existing food truck associations and help trucks start new associations.
Matt is also an entrepreneur. He currently is a partner and executive with Lotmom, Inc. — the developer of the revolutionary food truck lot management software that is currently being rolled out in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Tampa and Columbus, Ohio.
Matt’s background is both in the restaurant industry, where he managed several successful operations and in the law. Matt obtained his juris doctorate from the UCLA School of Law in 2008. Follow him on twitter at @mattgeller.
Rob serves as President of the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association (PMFA) and is also Secretary of the New Jersey Food Truck Association (NJFTA). He owns nationally recognized food trucks, The Cow and the Curd.
A former English teacher of 16 years, Rob turned his summer “stick stand” gig into a full-time concessions business in 2009. A high-volume concessions outfit with contracts covering a 5 state region, he specializes in events ranging from seasonal food festivals to sports tournaments and outdoor concerts including Dave Mathews and Metallica. Rob credits this experience with having provided the foundation to his model for food truck success.
In 2013, Rob launched The Cow and The Curd food truck, which quickly gained recognition and popularity as a Best of Philly winner, a repeat Vendy Award winner and a repeat People’s Choice winner at numerous food truck mega-events throughout the East Coast region. The Cow made its national television debut on NBC's 1st Look when it was chosen as one of the Top 4 fried foods in America. In 2015, The Cow and The Curd began distributing their Wisconsin battered fried cheese curds to area bars and restaurants.
These days, Rob spends most of his time as a consultant to event planners and food truck start-ups. He also dedicates significant time to working on legislative reform for food truck friendly business environments.
Rob earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Temple University where he was a four-year member of their football team.
DC Red Hook Lobster Pound Food Truck
Co-Founder of District Maryland and Virginia Food Truck Association
Douglas Povich is Counsel at the global law firm Squire Sanders where he practices communications and technology law in Washington, DC. In 2010, Doug started the Red Hook Lobster Pound food truck, which serves fresh Maine lobster rolls throughout the DC metropolitan area and has won numerous local and national accolades. Putting his J.D. to good use, Doug became a founding member of the DMV Food Truck Association, serves as Chairman of its Board of Directors and helps to promote food truck industry growth and persuade area governments to adopt reasonable mobile vending regulations. A frequent speaker on food truck regulations, trends and social media, Doug hopes that his law career someday will be eclipsed by his life as a burgeoning food truck entrepreneur. He received a B.A. from Union College in 1982 and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1985.
Willy Dely is the Chief Marketing Officer of Patrick Russell’s five successful restaurants and two food trucks, including the first gourmet food truck in Baltimore; Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon. He has pioneered the social media scene in Baltimore and has been at the forefront of the surge for mobile food since August 2009.
Kooper’s Chowhound Wagon and Woody’s Taco Island have created an incredible following not only for their daily lunch offerings but for private catering from business happy hours to formal wedding receptions. The idea of using the food trucks not only as a way to sell a pre-arranged menu, but as a mobile kitchen to provide gourmet catering options, has been the driving force for making the trucks some of the most sought after in the area.
Willy spear-headed the Maryland Food Truck Association as its first President, working hand in hand with local legislators in forming the policies and regulations to benefit both mobile vendors and brick and mortar establishments. Given that Willy is also responsible for the marketing of five such establishments, he is aware of the sometimes conflicting needs of both types of businesses.
In his spare time, Willy is a board member of the Craig Willinger Fund which was founded in honor of a friend lost to cancer. This charity helps cancer survivors realize their soccer dreams by sending them all over the world to see their favorite team play. Willy also represents Patrick Russell’s restaurant group by sitting on several boards such as Sail Baltimore and Fells Point Main Street which promote special events and raise money for community enrichment.
Available for conventions and conferences, Willy’s expertise in the industry is an invaluable asset. As a board member for the National Food Truck Association, Willy and his fellow members seek to share their knowledge and expertise with other food truck vendors and create a partnership of like-minded individuals across the country.
You can reach Willy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @bmorefrench.
Aroy-D, The Thai Elephant
Co-Founder New Jersey Food Truck Association
Jon Hepner is the co-founder of Aroy-D, the Thai Elephant with his wife Pupay. After spending 20 years in cor
porate IT, he realized his dream of launching his own business. With the culinary skills belonging solely with his wife, his skills were in being an all-around handyman and having solid business acumen. In the spring of 2011, they bought a 13 year old tool truck. For the next six months, Jon used the internet and DIY TV shows to learn how to build a food truck. Every night, he worked to convert the old tool truck into the first and only Thai food truck on the east coast.
The Thai Elephant opened in fall of 2011 into a burgeoning but challenging food truck scene in the Garden State. One year after opening the state was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. The Elephant’s attempts to help fell upon deaf ears since the trucks in the state were not “organized” and funding was not available to help a single truck provide hot meals to those in need. Local “Elefans” stepped up and the truck spent each weekend down the shore giving away hot meals. But the experience led Jon to see the importance of organizing the NJ trucks that could have mobilized in a matter of hours with the right support.
Working with close associates and other food truckers across the state, the NJ Food Truck Association was born. Today, the Association fights for the rights of trucks to operate around the state. They also provide assistance to upcoming dreamers that are trying to get started. The NJFTA is also a central source of information for those that want to leverage the strength of the food truck industry in virtually any capacity.
Jon studied at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is well-traveled, having been to all 50 states of the US and 22 countries around the world. Of course, Thailand is near and dear to his heart. He is an avid sports enthusiast and still plays vintage baseball (19th century rules) in his very limited spare time. Reach Jon at email@example.com or @Aroy_d on Twitter.
John Levy is the Founder and President of the Minnesota Food Truck Association which he founded and organized after launching his own food truck with his friend and partner, Andrew Zimmern (Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen, www.azcanteen.com). The MFTA is a nonprofit organization that represents all of the food trucks in the State of Minnesota (currently over 65 trucks are members).
When not working tirelessly for the MFTA and Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen, John has over 28 years of experience as a corporate, business and securities lawyer at the law firm of Nilan Johnson Lewis, P.A., focusing his practice on advising small- and medium-sized businesses (up to $250 million in revenues), including public and privately held companies and their boards, owners and management on all aspects of corporate structuring, organization, financing, ownership and management. John has completed many middle market merger and acquisition transactions ranging from several hundreds of thousands to several hundreds of millions of dollars, has advised on over 20 initial public offerings aggregating in excess of $1 billion in capital raised as well as numerous private placement and other types of private financings. An experienced negotiator and mediator, John has developed substantial industry experience in manufacturing, construction, printing, real estate development and high tech.
John is actively developing an expertise in Food Truck Law and helping to develop the food truck community in the State of Minnesota and nationwide. John lectures regularly on food truck matters and corporate and securities law. John believes that food trucks create a wonderful nexus of entrepreneurship, great food, diversity, education and the American Dream of owning one’s own business. He has worked with city and state governments, restaurants, regulatory authorities and other stakeholders (both for and against) in the development of food trucks.
John received a B.A. in philosophy and political science from the University of Vermont in 1982 and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law in 1985.