The Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award was presented to Roger Lowe Sr., president/chairman of the board for Lowe’s Markets.
Lowe began his career in the grocery industry in 1964 with the purchase of the Lowe family’s first store in Olton, Texas. Founded on the principle of taking care of the community, teammates and family, Lowe has since successfully grown his family-owned grocery business into one of the fastest growing grocery chains in the Southwest with 152 stores in five states.
“It is with great pleasure NGA presents this distinguished award to Roger Lowe Sr., a man who is deeply admired among the independent supermarket industry, his colleagues and within his community,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA.
Since 2009, the Thomas K. Zaucha Award, presented by Mondelēz International and named after NGA’s first president and CEO, has been presented annually to recognize an independent grocer that exemplifies persistence, vision and creative entrepreneurship. This award is among the most prestigious honors awarded to independent grocers.
The Thomas F. Wenning Pinnacle PAC Award was awarded to Chris Coborn, president and CEO of Coborn’s Inc.
Coborn, a fourth-generation supermarket operator, is a strong advocate for NGA government relations initiatives.
“Chris has been an active supporter of NGA’s Grocers Political Action Committee (PAC) and understands the importance of fostering relationships with candidates for Congress who will be supportive of the independent supermarket industry,” said Greg Ferrara, SVP of government relations and public affairs for NGA.
The Thomas F. Wenning Pinnacle PAC Award was established in 2014 to honor Tom Wenning for his 40 years of service to NGA and the independent supermarket industry and is presented to an NGA member who helps advance the role and presence of the independent grocer and NGA in government and political affairs.
A record-breaking show, 2016 board of directors named
The NGA Show opened at The Mirage in Las Vegas on Sunday. This year’s convention boasts a record-setting attendance level of more than 3,200 attendees alongside a sold-out expo floor.
“The continued growth and momentum from The NGA Show demonstrates that this is truly the event where independents gather,” said Larkin. “Independent supermarket operators are well positioned to meet the needs of a shifting consumer base, and they are eager to find fresh and innovative concepts that they can take back to implement in their own stores and exchange ideas with their colleagues.”
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal (retired) was featured as the keynote speaker for the opening session, sponsored by The Kraft Heinz Co. McChrystal, a four-star general and former Green Beret, led the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq during the Persian Gulf Wars and was top commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan. Known for his innovative leadership and team-building strategies, McChrystal provided NGA Show attendees with insights and solutions to address the various challenges leaders can face in a business environment.
NGA kicked off its opening session with the release of two videos highlighting the proud tradition and progress of the independent supermarket industry.
Prior to the show’s opening session, NGA hosted a series of pre-convention workshops ranging from topics on marketing and merchandising, finance, center store, technology as well as fresh foods. The show will feature two new workshop tracks involving store leadership and community leadership, as well as offer a two new super sessions on craft beers or e-commerce.
In addition to Sunday’s show events, NGA’s board of directors, by recommendation of its nominating committee and a subsequent vote by the NGA membership, announced the 2016 board of directors, officers and executive committee members, as well as the election of new board members.
Executive committee officers
• Chairman: Bob Ling, Unified Grocers
• Immediate past chairman: Rich Niemann Jr., Niemann Foods
• Vice chairman: Cheryl Sommer, Kaune’s Neighborhood Market
• Treasurer: Rich McMenamin, McMenamin Family ShopRite
• Secretary: Ted Balistreri, Sendik’s Food Markets
• Peter J. Larkin, NGA president and CEO
Members appointed to the 2016 executive committee
• Martin Arter, Affiliated Foods Midwest
• Rick Geyer, Geyer’s Markets
• Roger Lowe Jr., Lowe’s Market
• David Smith, Associated Wholesale Grocers
• Jeff Reagan, Wakefern Food Corp.
Newly elected and appointed to the 2016 NGA Board of Directors
• Denny Belcastro, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
• Guy Chiarello, First Data
• Ken Diehl, Strack & Van Til Market
• Steve Heggelke, Bozzuto’s
• Maria Kamberos, Treasure Island Foods
• Kristi Magnuson Nelson, Hugo’s Family Market Place
• Mike Stigers, Supervalu
• Mike Violette, Associated Grocers of New England
Outgoing board members recognized for their service and leadership
• Michael Bozzuto, Bozzuto’s
• Tracey Flores, Kennie’s Market
• Jerry Garland, Associated Wholesale Grocers
• Janel Haugarth, Supervalu
• Calvin Miller, Associated Grocers of Florida
• Barry Queen, Queen’s Price Chopper
More coverage from The NGA Show: Wakefern/ShopRite takes home ‘Best of Show’ Creative Choice Awards
More coverage from The NGA Show: Washington State claims another national best bagger title as Metropolitan Market employee takes 2016 crown
NGA previews consumer survey results
In other NGA news, the organization released topline results from its consumer trends study, which for the first time segments independent supermarket shoppers from national chain shoppers. The survey was conducted on behalf of NGA by Nielsen and results were presented during a super session at The NGA Show.
The consumer trends study was conducted online Dec. 7-22 among 1,525 U.S. adults age 18 and older who shop at national, regional or independent grocery stores. The sample was split into a geographic grouping of urban, suburban and rural shoppers—and, for the first-time, was segmented by consumers who shop at independent supermarkets.
The results revealed high consumer satisfaction among independent supermarkets. Eighty percent of respondents who primarily shop at an independent supermarket reported being very/extremely satisfied compared to 65 percent of respondents who reported being very/extremely satisfied with a national chain.
According to the survey results, independent supermarket operators scored high marks in selling high-quality fruits and vegetables (85 percent), high-quality meats (84 percent) and offers fast checkouts (87 percent). Results also revealed that independents were strongly associated with offering locally grown produce and other packaged goods (69 percent) and participating in community outreach initiatives (51 percent).
“As community stewards with their finger on the pulse of local demand, independent supermarket operators understand the value of fresh as a differentiator to the large national chains,” said Larkin. “These results make it clear that shoppers expect freshness, convenience and helpful, knowledgeable service, and today’s independent supermarket operator is finding innovative ways to respond to a variety of consumer preferences—something they’ve always been good at given their close ties to their communities and the consumers they serve.”
Added Laurie Rains, VP of U.S. retail consumer and shopper analytics at Nielsen, “Grocery shoppers are extremely satisfied with the experience they are having in/at independent grocery stores. The independent grocer has transformed their customers into advocates—these customers will support your business plans and recommend your store. With the bar set higher for independents, the key to independent grocers growing their market share is by leveraging their strengths—fresh foods, great service and most of all a connection to your community.”
While online shopping still lags in the U.S., results suggested that independents that offered online shopping could increase consumer satisfaction. One in three consumers indicated that they might switch supermarket stores if that store offered online shopping.
Regarding mobile apps and social media, the research showed that nearly one in five shoppers have downloaded food and beverage apps; however, usage among those who download is high (90 percent). Additionally, respondents who primarily shopped at independent supermarkets (48 percent) indicated that they used Facebook to research new products, recipes and nutrition.
These survey results will be released in full and further examined in a “Going to Market” webinar series this spring.
See photos from The NGA Show here.
The 2017 NGA Show will be held Feb. 12-15 at The Mirage in Las Vegas.