PHOENIX — FMI recognized six luminaries from the food retailing and supplier communities with its 2020 Executive Leadership Awards, which were presented Saturday during a luncheon at the association’s Midwinter Executive Conference here.
“The food industry is a people business,” FMI president and chief executive officer Leslie Sarasin said. “In our operations, there are three necessary virtues that make the food industry a noble enterprise: customer service, community support and an investment in people. Each of our honored leaders possess these virtues and have established industry-influencing legacies of enriching the lives of those in the communities they serve.”
The following individuals were celebrated for excellence in trading partner collaboration, entrepreneurial enterprises, investments in the community and statesmanship:
Kevin Davis, president and co-CEO of Bristol Farms, received this year’s Sidney R. Rabb Award.
“True customer service is about the way you make shoppers feel when they come in your store, it’s experiential, not a list of offerings,” he said, arguing that with out its people, the food retailing industry is simply made up of buildings. “As leaders, it’s our job to support employees with the right training and resources, so they can provide the best services to customers.”
Davis is widely recognized for his commitment to education, community philanthropy and business sense, according to FMI, which notes that he has grown Bristol Farms from three stores to a multi-formatted, specialty grocer operating 21 high-end, unique and successful stores. Davis was awarded FMI’s Robert B. Wegman Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 2016.
Al Carey, former North America CEO at PepsiCo Inc., was honored with the William H. Albers Award.
Carey, who led the North America Beverage and Frito-Lay North America snacks units until his retirement in March 2019, is being recognized for “sparking collaboration between brands and retailers, as well as front-line associates that trickled directly down to the consumer,” according to FMI.
“I’ve spent my whole career servicing customers and stores, and there’s no doubt these stores will have to change the way they service customers in this digital age,” Carey said. “Therefore, suppliers and retailers will have to collaborate more to reach today’s consumer.”
Reflecting on his various roles, he said he has witnessed the value of cultivating talent and advocating for workforce development throughout PepsiCo. Al Carey dedicated 38 years of his career to PepsiCo, which marked the end of a 40-year career in consumer-packaged goods that began at Procter & Gamble.
Mark Skogen, president and CEO of Festival Foods, received this year’s Robert B. Wegman Awardfor Entrepreneurial Excellence. He is credited with always pushing for new and innovative in-store experiences to better serve the customers.
“There are more ways to interact with guests in the digital age, but it’s still about being good to people and meeting and exceeding their needs,” Skogen said.
Programs like Festival Foods’ Mealtime Mentors leverages technology, while retaining personal customer-concierge services, to maintain loyalty with shoppers. FMI points out that Festival Foods is grounded in its Wisconsin community and has scaled to more than 30 locations. The retailer sponsors various community events each year, including the Festival Foods Turkey Trot, Festival Foods Fireworks, Food for Neighbors, and Paw Away Hunger. Skogen is a third-generation grocer, having worked in a variety of positions across the company, including department manager and store director, before transitioning to the president and CEO role in 2006.
Henry Johnson, the retired former president of W. Lee Flowers & Co., received this year’s Herbert Hoover Award for the humanitarianism and passion for philanthropy that was embedded in his leadership at W. Lee Flowers.
“Our stores still follow a ‘hometown proud’ motto; we’re proud of where we live, we’re proud of the communities we’re in, and we want to make them better,” Johnson said after reflecting on receiving the FMI Herbert Hoover Award.
Johnson served as President of W. Lee Flowers and Co. for more than four decades. Under his leadership, W. Lee Flowers supported the Boy Scouts of America, Boys & Girls Club, Harvest Hope Food Bank and numerous other organizations. Johnson has also served in advisory roles for IGA, INC., Food Distributors International and FMI. His leadership and service has been honored by several civic organizations. Most notably, he received the Boy Scouts of America’s Good Shepard Award and the Krause Award for Distinguished Service for Leadership and Ethics.
H-E-B president Craig Boyan received this year’s Glen P. Woodard, Jr. Award for Public Affairs. Boyan is credited with exemplifying leadership that extends beyond his company and its operating territory in Texas all the way to Capitol Hill. Boyan is a proponent of H-E-B’s involvement in FMI’s annual Washington D.C. fly-in, discussing important issues like payments and tax reform with members of Congress so that they hear and understand the influence this industry wields. Boyan’s passion for public affairs led to an historic moment for the grocery industry in 2019: under his leadership FMI played a critical role in redefining the way the courts interpret “confidential business data.” Boyan joined H-E-B in 2005 as chief strategic officer and was advisor to H-E-B for two years before joining the company.
Natalie Menza-Crowe, director of health and wellness at Wakefern Food Corp., was honored with this year’s Esther Peterson Award for Consumer Service.
“What’s most energizing being in food retail is that you’re truly helping people and changing lives,” Menza-Crowe said. Menza-Crowe, who joined ShopRite in 2005 as its first corporate dietitian, is credited with creating dynamic programs that educate and inspire consumers and associates to embrace the importance of healthy eating to make balanced nutritional decisions. She oversees ShopRite’s retail dietitian program, encompassing approximately 110 stores and addressing the health and wellness needs of shoppers at the most crucial point in their purchasing decision — right in the aisles.