The Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association (TGCSA) has named Melissa Eads of The Kroger Co. as its 2018 Retailer of the Year, and Tennessee’s Budweiser distributors—collectively—as its 2018 Supplier of the Year. The awards were presented during a ceremony at TGCSA’s annual convention at the Chattanooga Convention Center in early June.
The TGCSA board of directors annually awards these industry superlatives to leaders who have distinguished themselves through “outstanding store or supplier operations, notable contributions to the food industry, community service and service to the association.”
Eads is corporate affairs manager for Kroger’s Nashville division. In her public media and community relations duties on behalf of one of the region’s largest employers, Eads always represents Tennessee’s food industry with insightful information and a positive message, says TGCSA. She has taken that message to the state’s lawmakers and has been a leading voice on state government relations issues like wine in retail food stores.
In a departure from tradition, the TGCSA board opted to recognize a group of companies, instead of a person, as its Supplier of the Year.
“Tennessee’s Budweiser wholesalers collectively define what excellence in service of their retail partners should look like,” said board member Rick James of Castle Retail Group in Memphis. “Our Anheuser-Busch distributors are excellent partners who exemplify service, efficiency and value to our mutual benefit.”
Mark Ezell inducted into TGEF Hall of Eagles
Also during the convention, Mark Ezell, former president of Purity Dairies in Nashville, was inducted into the Tennessee Grocers Education Foundation (TGEF) Hall of Eagles.
The TGEF board of trustees established the Hall of Eagles in 1992 as a recognition for those who have distinguished themselves in support of the foundation’s mission. Now in its 33rd year, the TGEF provides higher-education scholarships for TGCSA member company employees, their children and their spouses. Scholarship funds are raised through the efforts of industry leaders like Ezell, who is the 40th inductee in the history of the Hall of Eagles.
Ezell recently retired from Purity Dairies, the company founded by his grandfather and where he worked since the age of 15. While at Purity’s helm, he established two TGEF-endowed scholarship funds. A former TGEF trustee, Ezell also capitalized on the TGEF Piggyback Scholarship program as a way to help dozens of Purity employees and their children realize their higher education dreams.
“As he did throughout his career at Purity, Mark Ezell approached his efforts with TGEF from the perspective of a servant leader,” said Rob Ikard, TGCSA president. “Mark used his considerable acumen to grow TGEF so that he could serve his company’s associates and the broader food industry community. He is most deserving of this recognition.”