Exhibit space for the 2013 Missouri Grocers Association (MGA) Annual Convention & Merchandising Show sold out twice, so the organization had to add booths three times, said Dan Shaul, state director at the MGA.
Held Aug. 16-17, the show changed locations this year and took place in the Hilton of Branson & Convention Center on the Branson Landing.
“We were able to change a few things but still provide good value to our members,” Shaul told The Shelby Report’s Geoff Welch. “What a great venue. Our members seemed to like the location.”
Just as a good grocery store does, the show melded together its events with the local community, Shaul said. Attendees were able to see “dueling pianos” at the MGA show and then go watch the performers live on stage in Branson.
He said overall attendance at the convention was up again this year, and he’s extremely proud of the increase in the number people who took part in the Best Bagger Contest.
“Nothing brings more joy than watching young people compete on how to give better customer service,” Shaul said. “That was great to see again this year.”
The MGA also honored four grocery professionals. Steve Dillard, who retired as VP of corporate sales at Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) in January, was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame. Shaul said Dillard “has given a lifetime of service to the grocery industry.” In addition to his work at AWG, Dillard held numerous director positions for AWG, including serving on the board of directors for the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska grocers associations. He also was AWG’s corporate media and industry relations executive, interacting with local and national industry publications.
MGA presented three people with the Capitol Impact Award, which is given to individuals making a difference in the area of government relations. Recipients included Hy-Vee’s Rose Mitchell, SVP of governmental affairs, who Shaul described as an “absolutely outstanding individual and very charismatic lobbyist for the industry.” She announced her retirement earlier this year.
Don Woods of Woods Supermarket received the award for his efforts in state government and involvement with his legislators, Shaul said, adding that Woods is “a great retailer from the state of Missouri.”
Tom Wenning, EVP and general counsel for the National Grocers Association (NGA), also received the award. He will retire from the NGA in December.
“He’s one of the finest people in D.C., just a great individual and he’s given a lifetime to the grocery industry,” Shaul said. “We’ll be forever indebted to his service.”
In addition to fun events like a golf outing and pool party, informational sessions were held and included such topics as workers’ compensation and secure electronic payments. There also were presentations from the Missouri Beef Industry Council and the Missouri Lottery.
“It simply goes back to our mission statement. We’re there for the growth and profitability of our members,” Shaul said. “If we can provide education, training and opportunities for our members to grow and be profitable, then our association will grow as well. Our success depends upon the success of our members. We’re very fortunate to be surrounded by some absolutely fabulous grocers, grocery companies and also vendors as well.”
The MGA will return to the Hilton of Branson & Convention Center on the Branson Landing in 2014.
“We look for an even better show next year,” Shaul said.
In the feature photo at top: Dan Shaul, state director, Missouri Grocers Association.