Last updated on March 25th, 2021 at 07:23 pm
Launched in 2013, the award memorializes former Michigan Grocers Association Director Albert “Al” Kessel, Jr., who founded the Flint-based Kessel Food Market chain. To reflect his generous spirit, one outstanding retailer and one outstanding business partner receive the award each year.
The winners were honored during the opening night of the annual Food Retailers Summit on Sept. 25 at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan. The summit, sponsored by the Grocers Division of MRA, continues a 121-year tradition of bringing retailers and suppliers together to benefit Michigan and the retail food industry.
Busch’s Fresh Food Market
With 16 family-owned, independent locations in southeast Michigan, Busch’s Fresh Food Market offers fresh produce, meat, seafood and bakery items along with more than 4,000 Michigan products. Busch’s also is known for providing personal service based on traditional values. Those values took root in 1975 with the purchase of two stores in Clinton and Saline by family patriarch Joe Busch and business partner Charlie Mattis.
When Busch retired in 1986, sons Doug, John and Tim took over and began acquiring and building more stores. Today, the three are co-owners. John also is Busch’s chairman and Doug is community development director. Ushering in a third generation, two of John’s children also work in the business. Busch’s President and CEO is Gary Pfeil.
Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Busch’s employs approximately 1,560 associates. The company joined the Michigan Grocers Association (MGA) in 1978. John served on the Michigan Grocers Service Corp. board for more than 15 years, and Busch’s culinary team supports MRA’s annual Legislative Reception.
In addition, Busch’s has a deep-rooted tradition of giving back to the communities it serves by supporting charitable organizations and schools with programs such as Cash for Education, which has given more than $1.6 million to schools in the past five years. Busch’s also assists local food banks with rescue programs and food drives throughout the year.
This summer, Busch’s completed a successful All aBout Children (ABC) food drive raising more than $262,000 to help families in need.
H.T. Hackney Co.
Founded in 1891, H.T. Hackney Co. is one of the largest wholesale distributors in the U.S., serving more than 25,000 retail locations from a 22 state-distribution network. Grand Rapids, Michigan, is home to one of the largest distribution centers in the Hackney organization.
Headquartered in Tennessee, the company expanded into Michigan in 2003. Hackney serves roughly 2,000 customers and employs about 250 people in Michigan today. Nationwide, the company employs about 4,000 people.
Bill Samson has been H.T. Hackney chairman and CEO since 1983. In Michigan, regional VP Bill Hillman serves as GM of the Grand Rapids Division.
The company joined MGA in 2007, and Hillman previously served on the MGA board of directors. H.T. Hackney Regional Sales Manager Craig Diepenhorst serves on the Michigan Grocers Division Advisory Board.
Hackney’s Grand Rapids Division gives back to Michigan in many ways, including hosting a charity golf outing to benefit Van Andel Institute, a research and science education organization, annually providing Thanksgiving dinner with Degage Ministries to help homeless and disadvantaged individuals, and hosting an adopt-a-family Christmas charity as well as a local school career day.
“Both Busch’s Fresh Food Market and H.T. Hackney make significant contributions to Michigan’s grocery industry,” says MRA President and CEO William J. Hallan. “They have earned the respect and admiration of colleagues and customers throughout the state and beyond. These awards are well-deserved recognition.”
MRA members range from small stores to large national and international chains, with nearly 5,000 member businesses that own and operate more than 15,000 stores and websites across the state.