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Entrepreneurial Excellence Award Goes To Kim Eskew Of Harps

Kim Eskew, recipient of the Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award from the NGA.

Kim Eskew, chairman and CEO of Arkansas-based Harps Food Stores, is this year’s recipient of the Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award from the National Grocers Association.

The award, sponsored by Mondelēz International Inc., is presented annually to an independent retailer who demonstrates persistence, vision and creative entrepreneurship. 

Eskew is committed to building a strong team of responsible, motivated people invested in delivering a superior shopper experience for Harps.

The award presentation was Saturday in Las Vegas, where the 2024 NGA Show is scheduled runs through Tuesday.

“Kim has a strong commitment to responsibility and accountability, and he encourages these qualities in the people that he leads – people who have been pivotal to the success of Harps,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO. 

“Throughout his career, Kim has brought an entrepreneurial spirit to his many roles at Harp’s that has helped the company grow into one of the most respected regional independent supermarket chains in the country.”

Eskew began his career in 1977 as a part-time checker while attending college. Since then, he has held numerous positions that range from closing manager to VP of marketing. He has held his current role since 2018.

Eskew oversees an employee-owned company that has experienced tremendous growth over the years, with annual sales now surpassing $1.5 billion as the company approaches 150 stores. 

“Yet, Harps still operates its stores like a community store, continually building an ever-growing fan base of customers,” Ferrara said. 

Under his leadership, Eskew led the development of Harps’ 10-Box cost plus format, designed to compete against Walmart’s supercenter low-price perception. These stores represent some of the most profitable in the company.

“This culture of putting employees first extends to team members of newly acquired stores, where Kim personally spends time meeting and getting to know Harp’s future employee-owners,” Ferrara said. 

“There aren’t many billion-dollar companies where the chairman and CEO dedicates days of their time in newly acquired stores just getting to know the people and ensuring a smooth transition, but Kim does. His calming and caring demeanor helps ensure a smooth transition where everyone truly feels respected and taken care of.”

Named after NGA’s first president and CEO, the Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award has been presented since 2009 to recognize an independent grocer that exemplifies persistence, vision and creative entrepreneurship. This award is considered one of the most prestigious honors for independent grocers.

Read more association news from The Shelby Report.

About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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