Michigan Grocers Association Honors Neiman, Country Fresh

Hal Neiman of Neiman’s Family Markets and Country Fresh Dairy of Grand Rapids have been awarded the Michigan Grocers Association (MGA) Al Kessel Outstanding Achievement Awards for 2014. The awards will be presented at the MGA Fall Conference Sept. 14 at the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City.

“MGA created the awards last year to honor the memory of former MGA board member Al Kessel, who passed away in December 2012,” said MGA President and CEO Linda M. Gobler. “Al was the founder of Kessel Food Markets, which served Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Corunna from 1981 to 2000. To reflect his generous spirit, the awards recognize the company, industry and community achievements of one outstanding retailer and one outstanding business partner.”

Anyone could nominate a deserving MGA member company or individual until May 30. Nominations were reviewed, and winners were selected by a 12-member MGA committee.

The 2014 Outstanding Retailer Hal Neiman, who founded Neiman’s Family Markets along with his wife Jean in 1983. This year the company marks 31 years as a growing, successful family business. In Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2012 State of the State address, he recognized invited guest Hal Neiman and his company as an example of a Michigan business that is able to grow because of the pro-business reforms of the prior year. At that time, Neiman’s was adding employees and plans were under way to open a fourth store. In July 2013, that fourth store opened in Clarkston, adding approximately 140 jobs to the area.

Neiman’s also has stores in Alpena, Tawas and St. Clair, employing more than 440 Michiganders. Hal Neiman was nominated by SpartanNash’s Tom Rubel, who describes him as “very hard working, having exceptional care and concern for his employees, dedicated to his family, constantly involved in local communities, plus he encourages all store directors to join their local chambers and he is passionate about the food industry.”

In early 2014, Neiman’s completed its Community Growth Fundraising Initiative held in celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary in 2013. Donations to numerous nonprofit organizations totaled $23,500.

In 2013, the governor appointed him to serve on the Michigan Beef Industry Commission. He also has been honored with the Outstanding Citizen Award in Alpena.

Hal Neiman holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master’s of educational psychology from Eastern Michigan University.

“A tireless advocate for the business community, Hal is a veteran supporter of Michigan Grocers Association,” says Gobler. “He served as board chairman and his son, Bryan, is currently a director.”

Neiman also has served on the customer advisory board of SpartanNash for the past 10 years, helping to provide better service to hundreds of independent retailers in Michigan.

The 2014 Outstanding Business Partner is Country Fresh Dairy, nominated by MGA member retailers Dave Duthler of Duthler’s Family Foods, Gary Gerlach of Orchard Markets, and Jim Nader, Plumb’s, for its long history of success in Michigan, independent roots and strong support of retailers and the environment.

Founded by a group of independent retailers in 1949 and headed today by longtime grocer L.V. Eberhard, Country Fresh is part of Dean Foods and employs more than 500 people in three production plants. Country Fresh works in partnership with more than 200 dairies across Michigan.

“The company has invested much time, money, and additional resources to strengthen security, traceability and sanitation. Those are things you’d like to take for granted in products, but you really can’t,” said Gobler.

Country Fresh received the CET Platinum Award from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration for an outstanding safety and health record. It also has been recognized for achievements in environmental protection and industry-leading product quality standards.

Country Fresh has built its reputation for exceptional customer service through the strength of its drivers and operations personnel. Its employees have impressive workplace longevity.

In addition, Country Fresh is a strong supporter of MGA and the retail grocery industry. It gives back to the state in many ways, including ongoing support of numerous community events and festivals.

MGA is the voice of the state’s supermarket and grocery industry at the state capitol in Lansing. Recognized as the leading advocate for eat-at-home food businesses in Michigan, the 116-year old organization includes hundreds of retail locations from Detroit to DeTour, Niles to Newberry and Grand Rapids to Grand Marais.

MGA’s diverse retail membership is made up conventional supermarkets and grocery stores, supercenters, gourmet stores, limited assortment stores, convenience stores and drug and pet food stores. MGA’s associate membership includes manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, sales agents, equipment companies and professional service providers of all types. Visit MichiganGrocers.org for more information.

About The Author

A 10-year employee of The Shelby Report who writes for and about food. In previous lives, she worked at a police department in Texas and an amusement park in Arkansas. She also was a newspaper publisher for more than a decade. Not sure which of those qualified her for this job.