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Weglarz Named CEO Of MIRA, Arabo To Lead Benchmark Beverage Co.

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Auday Arabo and Ed Weglarz

Auday Arabo is leaving his post with the Midwest Independent Retailers Association (MIRA) to become president and CEO of Benchmark Beverage Co. He has served as president and CEO of MIRA for the past 10 years. Ed Weglarz, director of petroleum for MIRA, has been named its new president and CEO.

Arabo left San Diego, California, in 2008 to take the position as the chief operating officer at MIRA, then was named president and CEO in 2010. He was the former president and CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association in California before he moved to Michigan. 

“I am leaving MIRA proud of our accomplishments over the last 10 years,” said Arabo. “Looking back at our 110 history, these last 10 years were the best the association has ever had when we measure membership growth, growth in geography, financially—which includes ownership of our building, profitable budgets 10 years straight as well for the future of MIRA with the creation and sale of Benchmark Beverage Co. The deal was negotiated with MIRA retaining 10 percent ownership of stock in Benchmark Beverage Co., which will greatly benefit them in the future.” 

Arabo, along with four others, created Benchmark Beverage Co., a distribution company focusing on specialty liquor and smaller brands and then sold it to MIRA. The company has been growing at a rapid rate.

“We originally sold the business to MIRA, and MIRA has now sold it to LKI in order to take it to the next level,” said Arabo. “Part of the sale agreement was that I would take over as president and CEO of Benchmark Beverage Co., working with LKI. I love to build businesses and love the challenges and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my career.” 

LKI is a Lipari Family owned investment company. 

Weglarz has spent his entire career in the petroleum and convenience store industry. Prior to taking his position with MIRA in 2006 as director of petroleum, he served as the president of the Great Lakes Petroleum Retailers Association and before that was the executive director of the Service Station Dealers Association (SSDA).

“Auday accomplished a lot at MIRA and is leaving the association in great shape, providing a springboard for us to expand and grow,” Weglarz said. “His even-tempered approach to challenges has earned him the respect of the staff, board members, MIRA members, suppliers, regulators, department head, and political leaders in three states. Auday lives and promotes the mantra: ‘When in doubt; just tell the truth,’ and he encouraged the MIRA staff to abide by that philosophy. He taught me patience and compassion and it was an honor to work with him. He will bring those same talents to his new position, and I know he’ll exceed expectations in his new adventure.”

Weglarz is a native of Chicago’s South Side, where he grew up and attended school at Illinois Tech in the shadow of what was then known as Comiskey Park. He and his wife, Merriam, live in Livonia, Michigan, and have two married sons and four grandchildren. His favorite activity is following professional motor racing events. 

“Ed was at the association when I arrived, and we have worked side-by-side for nearly 12 years in implementing programs and growing the association,” said Arabo. “He has been a tremendous co-pilot and will do a great job leading the association as president and CEO.”

MIRA was first formed in 1910 as the Meat Cutters Association. Today, the West Bloomfield, Michigan-based association represents more than 4,000 independent retailers in the Midwest including Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.

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Featured Photo PLMA Annual Private Label Trade Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Chicago, Illinois
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