The Ohio Grocers Association (OGA) is celebrating its 115th anniversary this year. Its 2014 Trade Relations Gala, held April 5 at the North Pointe Hotel and Conference Center in the Polaris area north of Columbus, drew nearly 400 people, and the OGA event experienced a record year for sponsorship.
Pinnacle Award winners Fligner’s Market and M&R Foods were recognized during the Gala. Velvet Ice Cream, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, received the first-ever OGA Associate Member of the Year award.
New at the Gala this year was an event called “Shots for a Shot.” Attendees could purchase envelopes from a selection of 115 ranging in price from $2 to $230 that contained as many as 115 chances to win any (or all) of the $1,115 prize jackpots that were drawn for five times during the event.
“We’ll probably continue to do that to bring energy and excitement into the future here at OGA. It was a great time,” said Nate Filler, president of the OGA.
He said the organization continues to strive to be “at the top of our game.
“What we’re trying to do here is turn the corner to get members to keep us in mind as just an extension of their staff,” Filler said. “What I mean by that is to ‘Call Us First’ (a campaign now under way) for any of their needs. We always get calls about maybe legislative and regulatory items, but we have great member programs like workman’s comp and coupons, things that we want to do to keep them in business for a long time to come.”
Former long-time OGA President Tom Jackson was invited to share a few remarks at the Gala. His tenure with the organization began in 1987.
“When I announced my retirement in January of 2011, there were people coming up to me and saying, ‘well, what is going to happen to OGA when you leave?’” Jackson said. “Let me tell you my response to them. It was simply: ‘it will get better.’ You know what? Look around. What I said is true. It’s gotten better. I’m proud of this association.”
And the future is bright, Filler said.
“We want to keep independents growing in Ohio,” Filler said. “We want to keep our chain members strong and do what we can for those that support the industry.”
Among OGA’s plans is a new scholarship program.
“We’ve always had tuition reimbursement, so when you take a class, you can sign up and get reimbursed for a college-level course or even a cake-decorating class,” he said. “We want to get more money back out there, so we want to actually have scholarships perhaps in our members’ names, and an OGA one, as well. So stayed tuned on that.”
The OGA already has decided on the theme for next year’s Gala as well.
“It’s going to be a 1960s theme,” Filler said. “We’re calling it a ‘Groovy Gala.’”
In the feature photo at top are Lori and Nate Filler.