• Gabriel Donio

Sikora was a man of faith, business

Former Custom Sales owner dies at 98


Courtesy Photo

HAMMONTON—William Sikora, a man of faith whose career achievements included the Collmont Diner in Collingswood, the Country Squire Inn in Cherry Hill and Custom Sales, a mobile food equipment manufacturing company that is still thriving today in Hammonton; and whose charitable works in the name of his great God helped support missionaries throughout the world, died on December 7. Sikora was 98.


According to his obituary, Sikora leaves behind his wife of 75 years Lillian (Granick), a large family, and longtime employees whom he considered part of his extended family.


A longtime entrepreneur from as young as 9 years old, Sikora started in business selling fruit off a pony-led wagon, and Yum Yum on the streets of Camden, his obituary said. This successful enterprise led to his own grocery store, “Billy’s Groceries,” owning his own apartment complex at 15 years old and eventually, the successful enterprises that grew significantly during his long life. They included the Collmont Diner and Bakeries, which were enormously popular with its customers, including a young Michael Landon, who attended Collingswood High School at the time and later became a famous actor. The Country Squire Inn, located near Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, was built in 1963, according to an article that appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The motel had many guest rooms and suites, three swimming pools and banquet facilities. Entertainers from the Latin Casino and other clubs often stayed at the Country Squire Inn, according to a brochure from the motel.


His obituary said Sikora, who was a former president of the New Jersey Restaurant Association according to the article in the Inquirer, led Custom Sales for more than 60 years. The company, now known as Custom Mobile Food Equipment, did and does work throughout the world, for major corporations and organizations including Disney, McDonald’s, Marriott, MGM Resorts, Rutgers University, American Red Cross, Six Flags, Wawa, Rita’s, the United States Air Force, the Salvation Army, Hershey Park and more like them. The company is known worldwide for its quality food trucks, food carts, kiosks and other equipment, which is manufactured in Hammonton. Sikora’s success led to many profiles of him and his company in various media outlets.


“You can’t depend on other people. You’ve got to do things yourself … We have it all here. We build everything under one roof,” Sikora said in an article by The Press of Atlantic City from the 2000s.


His granddaughter Becky Kyle summed up her grandfather’s life in words she wrote following his passing.


“Opportunities are multiplied as they are seized. This is how I believe my grandfather lived his life. He never walked away from a challenge, hard work or a good deal. He also never stopped taking every opportunity he had to tell others about Jesus his Savior,” Kyle said.


Today, Custom Mobile Food Equipment is owned by Sikora’s daughter, Lynda Sikora. Her son, David Kyle, is the vice president, and Stephen Granick, Director of Service and Warranty, is involved in the daily operations of the business.


Lynda Sikora said her father always enjoyed a challenge.


“He loved challenges. When he accomplished something, he would want to move on to the next project,” Lynda Sikora said.


Sikora engendered loyalty in his employees, and his relationship with them was important to him, according to his daughter.


“The bottom line is important, but it’s not the most important thing. It’s your relationship with God and your employees … We carry on the legacy in a way that he would have wanted to have it,” Lynda Sikora said.


Many of them have worked there at the company for decades. One of them, Nelson Vega, spoke with The Gazette on December 9 about his longtime connection to William Sikora, Lynda Sikora and the company.


Sitting in Lynda Sikora’s office on December 9, Vega spoke at length with respect, admiration and affection about his former boss, William Sikora. Vega has been with the company for 36 years, he said.


“He had a certain enthusiasm that, right off the bat, he was a person you knew for a long time,” Vega said.


As the years moved forward, Vega said, he and William Sikora became connected by their work relationship and their Christian faith.


“Bill became very Christian-oriented. His journey was paralleling mine. At work, he would come and talk to me about faith and family … We had a real, strong bond—we were good friends. I think we grew together. I respected him as the boss,” Vega said.


During his long life, Sikora also sought to give back to others, often to missionaries in the name of his great God, his obituary said. Those charitable efforts included building a hospital for the blind in Africa, a school for the deaf in Peru, an orphan home in Romania, an orphanage in Myanmar, several churches in Haiti and much more. Sikora made several trips to Haiti himself as part of his charitable giving, Lynda Sikora said.


“It’s God that made the man that gave so much to people. It was his relationship with God. He loved to give. It was more of a blessing to give than to receive something in return,” Lynda Sikora said of her father.


A celebration service was held at Gospel Baptist Church in Bonita Springs, Fla. (www.gospelbaptistchurch.com) on December 12. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to The Pilgrim Academy (pilgrimacademy.org) or to Christ Fellowship Church 5343 Northlake Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418.


Online condolences may be offered by visiting www.ShikanyFuneralHome.com.