The Alabama Grocers Association held their annual Food Industry Finest Luncheon on Thursday, November 2nd honoring their retailer, wholesaler and vendor of the year award winners. Speakers included Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Del Marsh and Motivational Speaker Jeremiah Castille.
The food retail industry in Alabama provides of 69,000 jobs with over $2.2 billion in annual wages paid. Grocers pay over 1.2 billion in state taxes and have a total economic impact on the state’s economy of over $12 billion dollars.
More than 150 people attended the event at The Club to discuss the work of the Alabama Grocers Association in 2017 and those in the food, beverage and grocery profession here in Alabama.
“Each of these fine individuals hold a special place within the Alabama Grocery Industry. They are committed to growing and improving the grocery industry in Alabama,” said Ellie Taylor, President Alabama Grocers Association. “We are thankful for the opportunity to honor them and their commitment.”
Vendor of the Year
Vendor of the Year is Mr. Eddy Quinley of Advantage Solutions. Eddy started his grocery career as a direct retail sales representative with the Campbell Sales Company, followed by opportunities at The Hershey Chocolate Company and The Harper Sales Company. In 1989, he started with Advantage Solutions Company in Mobile and is currently Business Development Manager calling on Associated Grocers of the South, Mitchell Grocery Corporation and Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Company.
Eddy has been involved in the Alabama Grocers Association for over 12 years and joined the Board of Directors in 2013. Eddy has received numerous awards and recognition for the work he has done in the food industry. He was awarded the Merit award from Campbell Sales Company in 1981 and 1987; and in 2009 received the Vendor of the Year award from the Associated Grocers of the South, the Broker of the Year from the Alabama Grocers Association and the Chairman’s Award from Advantage Sales & Marketing.
“It is a great honor to be chosen for this award. To think that the people I work with would vote for me to receive such a recognition is overwhelming.” said Eddy Quinley about winning the 2017 Vendor of the Year Award.
Retailer of the Year
Retailer of the Year is Mr. Darwin Metcalf of Western Markets. Darwin started his career at 9 years old shopping and delivering groceries for his elderly neighbors from the local A&P on the Southside of Birmingham for 15 cents a trip. At age 10, he worked as a local paperboy making $7 a week. He continued this route until he was old enough to be hired at the local Winn-Dixie bagging groceries. In 1967, Mr. Stanley Virciglio saw Darwin bagging groceries at Winn-Dixie and offered him a job at the Western Highlands.
Through the 50 years working at Western, Darwin has been a night manager, produce manager, assistant store manager, store manager, director of operations and executive vice president. Early in his career with Western he set a goal for himself, to be president. In 2007, that goal was achieved when he was named President/Chief Operating Officer.
Darwin joined the Alabama Grocers Association Board of Directors in 1998, served as Chairman in 2003 and won the Retailer of the Year award in 2004.
“Coming from an organization I love and admire makes this very special. The group of retailers nominated are a very special group and I am humbled and honored to be considered among them.” said Darwin Metcalf about winning the 2017 Retailer of the Year.
Wholesaler of the Year
Wholesaler of the Year is Mr. Delma Craft of Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Company. Delma started in the grocery business in 1978 at Piggly Wiggly Southern in Vidalia, Georgia as a produce selector and loading trucks for delivery. In 1988, Piggly Wiggly Vidalia was sold to RFS out of California and ran the operation until Bruno’s Supermarkets of Birmingham bought the warehouse in 1990. In 1994, Delma was relocated to Birmingham, Alabama where he was a buyer and category manager for Bruno’s.
Delma went to work for Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Company in September of 1998 as a grocery buyer. He worked through the ranks to his current position of Vice President & Director of Procurement. He also buys commodities and works with the Piggly Wiggly operators on a daily basis.
Delma learned his dedicated work ethic from his father. He always told him no matter what, do what you say you are going to do, show up and give it all you got. Growing up in Lyons, Georgia on his grandparent’s farm gave him a great insight to a hard day’s work and he has taken these life lessons to heart. Over the years he has earned the respect from the co-ops and his co-workers. His knowledge of grocery procurement and his experience has made him a great ambassador for the Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Company and the grocery industry.
When asked what winning this award means to him, Delma replied “It tells me a lot of independent operator respect the job the employees are doing at PWADC.”
“We are honored to have so many amazing people in the grocery industry that care about their customers and the communities they serve. The three individuals we honored today all have a high standard and level of commitment to their companies and the people of Alabama,” said Frank D’Amico, III of BTC Wholesale and Chairman of the Alabama Grocers Association. “I congratulate each of them on receiving the Associations highest honor”.
About the Alabama Grocers Association: The Alabama Grocers Association is a state trade association representing the grocery retail industry since 1990. With more than 135 retail members operating nearly 1,000 stores nationwide, as well as over 225 manufacturers, brokers, wholesalers and other members, the AGA is the voice of the industry in the state of Alabama. The food retail industry in Alabama provides over 69,000 jobs with over $2.2 billion in annual wages paid. Grocers pay over $1.2 billion in state taxes and have a total economic impact on the state’s economy of over $12 billion dollars. For more information, go to www.alabamagrocers.org.
The 2017 Buy Alabama’s Best Retail Campaign Launch Awards luncheon was recently held at The Club. The group is made up of the Alabama Grocers Association, the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, and the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association.
Presentations were made by Mr. Don Wambles, Director of AG Promotions with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Mrs. Ellie Taylor, President, Alabama Grocers Association; Mr. Frank D’Amico, III of BTC Wholesale Distributors and Vice Chairman, Alabama Grocers Association; Mr. Keith Lusk of Golden Flake Snack Foods and Vice President, Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association; Ms. Sara Franklin, the Lollar Group; and Dr. Kimberly Whelan, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Children’s of Alabama. Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association members as well as retailers and wholesalers throughout the state of Alabama were also in attendance.
Mr. Don Wambles, Director of AG Promotions with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Mr. Keith Lusk, Vice President, Alabama Food Manufactures and Producers Association; and Mr. Frank D’Amico, III, Vice Chairman, Alabama Grocers Association, presented Display Contest Award Certificates for 2016.
These displays featured participating Alabama food products to help consumers identify which products are headquartered, produced or manufactured in the state of Alabama. Awards were given to the following retailers:
- Sav Mor Food Outlet, Calera, AL
- Foodland, Gardendale, AL
During the months of March and September, a portion of the sales of participating Alabama food product companies along with retail sales of icons raised monies for the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Children’s of Alabama.
A check was presented to Dr. Kimberly Whelan in the amount of $54,977 for 2016. Since 2006, the Buy Alabama’s Best Campaign has raised $678,308 to fight pediatric cancer.
“This generous donation from local Alabama businesses associated with the Alabama Grocers Association will help us meet our mission of working to cure every child with cancer,” said Whelan. “Children’s of Alabama is working to find a cure each and every day.”
Mrs. Ellie Taylor, President, Alabama Grocers Association announced to those in attendance that the Buy Alabama’s Best Campaign would be a quarterly event going forward. This year they will target March, June, September & December as designated months for retailers to show support of the Alabama products.
Following the presentation, a buffet featuring all Alabama food products was enjoyed by those in attendance.
The purpose of the Buy Alabama’s Best Campaign is to identify and increase awareness of Alabama food products and increase sales of those products. Alabama food product sales have a $2 billion impact in Alabama’s economy, tax base and along with the food service industries, employ one out of every four Alabamians.
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