During the National Grocers Association’s (NGA) board of directors dinner Saturday, Mike Needler Sr., CEO of Fresh Encounter, was awarded the 2012 Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. Needler, a successful entrepreneur whose business was founded in 1964 and has grown to 29 stores in Ohio and Indiana, is recognized as an outstanding leader in both the industry and his community.
A past chairman of NGA and former director of the Ohio Grocers Association, his dedication to the industry also extends to his own employees through recognition awards and scholarships through the Needler Scholarship Foundation. He also is a community leader, supporting hunger relief organizations through personal and in-store initiatives including donating goods and creating the long-running Fresh Encounter Charity Golf Classic.
“Mike is a true example of what it means to be a leader,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA. “His tireless contributions to our industry and service to his community exemplify what this award stands for.”
The award, presented by Mondelez International, has been given each year since 2009 to recognize an independent grocer that exemplifies persistence, vision and creative entrepreneurship. The award is one of the most prestigious honors awarded to independent grocers.
“We are proud to present this award to Mike Needler,” said Don Quigley, president of U.S. sales for Mondelez International. “He is an invaluable asset to the industry, and his innovations and leadership will be remembered for years to come.”
In the featured photo at top: Mike Needler Sr., CEO of Fresh Encounter, accepts the 2012 Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Mike Gatty)
More NGA Show photos can be found here. Check back for updates and additional photos from the show throughout the week.