Deacon Steve has served as a permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church since 2017. He has also served until recently as the Chairman of his family’s business, HP Hood, a leader in the dairy and food industry. HP Hood is among the largest independent, privately owned companies in the country.
Deacon Steve says the Kaneb family’s mission is both simple and powerful: To those who have been given much, much will be expected, and to those who have been entrusted with more, still more will be demanded.
Steve Kaneb grew up in a traditional 20th-century Catholic family as the oldest of 6 brothers in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, a wealthy suburb 20 minutes north of Boston.
When Steve was born in 1958, his father John was serving in the United States Navy, stationed in Newport, Rhode Island. The following year, John’s father Mike died suddenly. John was able to get an early release from active service in order to take over Mike’s fledgling oil company. After his service in the US Army, John’s brother Al joined the company as 50% owner.
Steve received his education in the Lynnfield public schools through grade 8. Then he enrolled at St. John’s Prep, an all-boy Catholic high school, graduating in 1976. All of Steve’s brothers followed him, with the youngest brother graduating from St John’s in 1986.
After a few unsuccessful years studying mechanical engineering at Cornell University, Steve was “given his walking papers” but fortunately allowed to transfer to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), his grandfather Mike’s alma mater.
After two years at WPI, Steve graduated in 1982 and took an engineering job in Orange County, California.
When Steve came home for Christmas that year, he asked his good friend from WPI, Andrea, out on a date. At that time, Andrea was halfway through her junior year. After Andrea finished her junior year, she took a summer job at the ground systems group of Hughes Aircraft (which happened to be located in Orange County).
Steve and Andrea were engaged before she went back for her final year at WPI, and two weeks after her graduation, they married. Andrea then took a job as digital design engineer at Hughes. Meanwhile, Steve’s job morphed from a fabrication shop to project engineer for geothermal and landfill gas power plants.
In 1987, Steve and Andrea wanted to move back east. Andrea took a job at Wang Laboratories, and Steve took a job as project manager for a developer that the Kaneb family had partnered with in Hooksett, New Hampshire. This joint venture was formed to build a regional shopping center and 75 single-family homes. During these years, Steve became a licensed professional engineer in California, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
In 1989, Andrea and Steve had their first child, and the Kaneb family separated from their real estate development partner. So Steve simultaneously became a father and employed in the family business. Two years later, Steve moved his workplace from New Hampshire to the family’s office in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
After John and Al sold their oil business in 1983, John and his 6 sons parlayed their varied talents, experiences and capital into a new oil business and speculative real estate ventures. The family’s new oil business succeeded so well that in 1995, the Kanebs were able to buy an ailing New England dairy processing company, HP Hood. Now a nationwide frontrunner in the dairy and food industry, Hood employs over 3,000 people and serves all 50 states. The Kanebs have also revamped the former Hood headquarters and milk processing plant in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood into a thriving live-work-play real estate asset.
Steve’s father John died in 2021 at age 86. According to their predetermined succession plan, Steve’s brother Gary was appointed president and CEO of Hood, and Steve became its chairman. After 2 years as chairman, Steve asked another brother to succeed him, and that became formal in 2024. Currently, Steve is implementing his plan to divest from half of the family business and diversify into separate interests.
In 2012, Steve felt called to the permanent diaconate and was ordained in 2017.
He currently divides his time between family (Andrea, 5 children, 3 in-laws and 5 granddaughters), family business, ministry, and philanthropy.