The Alabama Grocers Association (AGA) held its annual Food Industry Finest Luncheon on Nov. 2, honoring its Retailer, Wholesaler and Vendor of the Year award winners. Speakers included Speaker of the Alabama House, Mac McCutcheon, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Del Marsh and motivational speaker Jeremiah Castille.
More than 150 people attended the event at The Club in Birmingham to discuss the work of the AGA and those in Alabama’s food, beverage and grocery industry in 2017.
“Each of these fine individuals hold a special place within the Alabama grocery industry. They are committed to growing and improving the grocery industry in Alabama,” said Ellie Taylor, AGA president. “We are thankful for the opportunity to honor them and their commitment.”
“We are honored to have so many amazing people in the grocery industry that care about their customers and the communities they serve. The three individuals we honored today all have a high standard and level of commitment to their companies and the people of Alabama,” said Frank D’Amico III of BTC Wholesale and chairman of AGA. “I congratulate each of them on receiving the association’s highest honor.”
The winners are:
Retailer of the Year
Darwin Metcalf of Western Markets was honored as Retailer of the Year.
Metcalf started his career at nine years old, shopping and delivering groceries for his elderly neighbors from the local A&P on the Southside of Birmingham for 15 cents a trip. At age 10, he worked as a local paperboy making $7 a week. He continued this route until he was old enough to be hired at the local Winn-Dixie bagging groceries. In 1967, Stanley Virciglio saw Metcalf bagging groceries at Winn-Dixie and offered him a job at the Western Highlands. Through his 50 years working at Western, Metcalf has been a night manager, produce manager, assistant store manager, store manager, director of operations and EVP. Early in his career with Western he set a goal for himself—to be president. In 2007, that goal was achieved when he was named president/COO.
Metcalf joined the AGA Board of Directors in 1998, served as chairman in 2003 and won the Retailer of the Year award in 2004.
“Coming from an organization I love and admire makes this very special. The group of retailers nominated are a very special group, and I am humbled and honored to be considered among them,” said Metcalf.
Vendor of the Year
Eddy Quinley of Advantage Solutions was named Vendor of the Year.
Quinley started his grocery career as a direct retail sales representative with the Campbell Sales Co., followed by opportunities at The Hershey Chocolate Co. and The Harper Sales Co. In 1989, he started with Advantage Solutions Co. in Mobile and now is business development manager calling on Associated Grocers of the South, Mitchell Grocery Corp. and Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing C.
Quinley has been involved in AGA for more than 12 years, joining the board of directors in 2013. Quinley has received numerous awards and recognition for the work he has done in the food industry. He was awarded the Merit award from Campbell Sales Co. in 1981 and 1987, and in 2009 received the Vendor of the Year award from Associated Grocers of the South, the Broker of the Year from AGA and the Chairman’s Award from Advantage Sales & Marketing.
“It is a great honor to be chosen for this award. To think that the people I work with would vote for me to receive such a recognition is overwhelming,” said Quinley.
Wholesaler of the Year
AGA’s Wholesaler of the Year is Delma Craft of Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co.
Craft started in the grocery business in 1978 at Piggly Wiggly Southern in Vidalia, Georgia, as a produce selector and loading trucks for delivery. In 1988, Piggly Wiggly Vidalia was sold to RFS out of California and ran the operation until Bruno’s Supermarkets of Birmingham bought the warehouse in 1990. In 1994, Craft was relocated to Birmingham, where he was a buyer and category manager for Bruno’s. Craft went to work for Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co. in September of 1998 as a grocery buyer. He worked through the ranks to his current position of VP and director of procurement. He also buys commodities and works with the Piggly Wiggly operators on a daily basis.
Craft learned his dedicated work ethic from his father, said AGA. He always told Craft that no matter what, do what you say you are going to do, show up and give it all you got. Growing up in Lyons, Georgia, on his grandparent’s farm gave Craft insight into a hard day’s work, and he has taken these life lessons to heart. Over the years he has earned the respect of co-ops and co-workers. His knowledge of grocery procurement and his experience has made him a great ambassador for the Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co. and the grocery industry, AGA added.
When asked what winning this award means to him, Craft said, “It tells me a lot of independent operators respect the job the employees are doing at PWADC.”
AGA is a state trade association representing the grocery retail industry since 1990. With more than 135 retail members operating nearly 1,000 stores nationwide, as well as more than 225 manufacturers, brokers, wholesalers and other members, the AGA is the voice of the industry in the state of Alabama. The food retail industry in Alabama provides more than 69,000 jobs and more than $2.2 billion in annual wages paid. Grocers pay more than $1.2 billion in state taxes and have a total state economic impact of more than $12 billion.