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WFIA Presents Its Inaugural Excellence In Safety Awards

WFIA Excellence in Safety awards
Harbor Wholesale Food receives the WFIA Excellence in Safety Award.

The Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA) has presented two companies with its inaugural Excellence in Safety Awards.

The Excellence in Safety Awards were presented to Harbor Wholesale Foods and Olympia Grocery Outlet last week as part of the association’s annual Vendor-2-Retailer Event and Industry Awards Dinner at the Spokane Convention Center.

“Reducing workplace injuries and helping employers create safe work environments is an important part of our work at WFIA. That is why I am so pleased to present our first annual Excellence in Safety Awards to Harbor Wholesale Foods and Olympia Grocery Outlet, two outstanding member businesses that have made safety a part of their culture. Safety is a shared responsibility in each of these companies,” said Jan Gee, WFIA president and CEO. “We hope this award, and the employers we honor with it, will inspire other WFIA members and their workplace safety efforts.”Washington Food Industry Association

The WFIA’s Excellence In Safety Awards recognize member companies that have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to workplace safety. Members must be actively enrolled in the association’s Retrospective Rating Program or “Retro.” Employers enrolled in Retro can qualify for premium refunds and lower the upfront payments made to the Department of Labor & Industries each quarter through safe workplace practices. Employers or groups of like employers may receive premium refunds or they may be assessed additional premiums based on their performance.

This year’s WFIA large group winner, Harbor Wholesale Foods, is a multi-generation, family-owned business headquartered in Lacey. As a distributor of products for people on-the-go in the Northwest, Harbor Wholesale serves more than 2,000 locations including convenience stores, restaurants and other retailers of consumer products. It is one of the nation’s top convenience products distributors, offering its customers more than 12,000 unique products.

“One reason Harbor Wholesale Foods continues to excel is that its leadership team understands the importance of investing in people,” said Gee. “They have a culture of growth and empowerment, with each of their team members given the opportunity to contribute to their team’s success. This is reflected in every aspect of their business and is part of what makes them an exemplary company.”

The WFIA small group winner, Mae and Albert Respicio of Olympia Grocery Outlet, offers discount, overstocked and closeout products from name brand and private label suppliers.  One area where the Respicios focused their efforts was reducing injuries from box knives. In 2017, Olympia Grocery Outlet had 12 box knife cuts. In 2018, they had eight, and so far in 2019 there has been only one box knife injury.

“Mae and Albert have made employee safety a priority, so much so that they personally teach and train all employees about safe safety practices,” Gee said. “In fact, when they learned about the new safety award, they almost didn’t enter because they didn’t want the recognition. But, in true fashion, they thought that if they could help other businesses then it was definitely worth it. And they thought that being the first annual award winner would be pretty awesome, too.”

Harbor Wholesale will receive a bonus check of $7,500; Olympia Grocery Outlet will receive a bonus check of $2,500. Both will also receive their Retro refund check one month early.

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