The National Grocers Association (NGA) recognized two industry leaders with top awards during the 2018 NGA Show. The Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award was presented to Chris Coborn, chairman, president and CEO of Coborn’s Inc., and the Women Grocers of America (WGA) presented the Woman of the Year Award to Kristi Magnuson Nelson, president and CEO of Hugo’s Family Marketplace.
Coborn, a second-generation leader of employee-owned Coborn’s, has been an active industry leader, holding positions as a past chairman of NGA and current chair of the board of Topco. Two key factors of Coborn’s success under Chris Coborn’s leadership have been aggressive expansion and the risk-taking that goes along with it, says NGA. Today, Coborn’s Inc. operates 54 grocery stores and 70 convenience, liquor and other retail stores throughout the Midwest.
“Chris exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of this award as he has looked for ways to expand his business, develop new formats and provide a terrific value proposition in the marketplace to better serve his customers and community,” said NGA President and CEO Peter Larkin.
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 demonstrates persistence, vision and creative entrepreneurship. This award is one of the most prestigious honors NGA awards to independent grocers.
Kristi Magnuson Nelson grew up working in the family grocery business—Hugo’s Family Marketplace—in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Since taking on the roles of president and CEO, Nelson has lead Hugo’s expansion to a total of ten grocery stores located in Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, Crookston, Thief River Falls, Jamestown, Grafton and Park Rapids, and five liquor stores located in Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, Jamestown and Grafton. Nelson has been awarded the NGA Spirit of America Award, as well as the North Dakota Grocer of the Year Award. She was named one of Prairie Business Magazine’s Top 25 Women in Business in 2016.
“Congratulations to Kristi, who has proven herself to be a true leader throughout her career in the food industry,” said Larkin. “Her vision and leadership have been an integral part of the success of Hugo’s Family Marketplace, and she is a steadfast champion for the independent supermarket industry.”
The Woman of the Year Award recipient must exemplify the “true characteristics of a leader with passion for the independent grocery industry.” Recipients are strategic thinkers, standout representatives within their company or organization and have the perseverance to face almost any challenge presented to them.