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.
Healthy Food Financing Program is a Reality for Alabama
Innovative Public‐Private Partnership brings better access to healthy food in communities across the state
An innovative public‐private partnership is officially
up and running in Alabama paving the way to bring fresh food retailers to underserved areas across the state. The Healthy Food Financing Program is administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) which will disperse $300,000 in up to $50,000 increments through a statewide application process. The application is now live at www.adeca.alabama.gov and food retailers, including grocers, farmer’s markets, wholesale markets and other fresh food vendors are invited to apply. The deadline for application submissions is December 20, 2017.
At the urging of a broad‐based coalition of business, not‐for‐profit, and community advocates, a statewide revolving loan program has been established to allow for the expansion or renovation of fresh food retailers in Alabama communities with limited access to healthy food. According to a 2014 report, over 1.8 million Alabama residents ‐‐ including nearly half a million children ‐‐ live in communities with little to no access to fresh, healthy food. This lack of access has, in part, led Alabama to have one of the highest rates of diabetes in adults. Addressing this health crisis is a priority for VOICES for Alabama’s Children which is why they partnered with the Alabama Grocers Association, the Business Council of Alabama, the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, and several other leading voices to make the initiative a reality in our state.
“Far too many families live in places across our state where fresh food is hard to come by, but change is here. As a result of a strong, multi‐sector coalition coming together, we are seeing a policy shift in focus to improving people’s health by expanding access to fresh food,” said Melanie R. Bridgeforth, MSW, executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children. “Alabama is fortunate to have strong legislative champions, Senators Greg Reed (R‐Jasper) and Bobby Singleton (D‐Greensboro) who fought to create and subsequently fund the state’s first Healthy Food Financing program putting our state steps closer to closing the grocery gap in communities across Alabama.”
The shortage of retail establishments that sell fresh food means that residents, in both urban and rural areas, must travel out of their neighborhoods to reach the nearest store that sells the foods necessary to maintain a healthy diet.
“Grocery stores play a vital role in Alabama communities, and the Healthy Food Financing Program is an effective, viable and economically sustainable policy solution to the problem of limited food access to fresh healthy foods in communities,” said Ellie Taylor, president of the Alabama Grocers Association. Healthy food financing initiatives can have a long lasting economic impact throughout local communities and the state. Some of these benefits include: boosted economic activity, new jobs, increased wages and increased tax revenue,” she added.
Alabama voters understand the importance of fresh food access too. According to a recent poll conducted by Southeast Research, more than 90% of registered Alabama voters believe it is important for children to have access to fresh and healthy foods. Additional results show that overall support for addressing the problem of healthy food access is robust and widespread across every demographic in the state.
“Healthy food financing initiatives are proven components of comprehensive public health models that help combat severe and costly illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” explained Jessica James, Alabama Advocacy Chair, American Heart Association. “Reversing these negative health trends can position Alabama to save millions in health care costs while improving health outcomes across the state.”
VOICES for Alabama’s Children, the Alabama Grocers Association, and the American Heart Association along with over 75 state, regional and national partners launched the healthy food access campaign in Alabama in early 2014, seeking to raise awareness about the growing concern of childhood obesity and its relationship to food access. The 2016 study commission recommended that the legislature make a significant investment of roughly $3 million in order to realize the full health and economic development impact a program like this can have in Alabama. All three organizations will continue to fight for expansion of the program because more funding is needed to truly improve food access in Alabama communities.
The Alabama Grocers Education Foundation held its 25th Annual Spring Golf Outing on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at Inverness Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama. This tournament included two flights and raised monies for the Alabama Grocers Education Foundation, which funds scholarships to employees and children of employees of Alabama Grocers Association companies. To date AGEF has awarded over a million dollars because of the tremendous support of our members at golf tournaments such as this one.
The winners of the golf tournament were are follows:
Morning First Place Team: The Lighting Specialties sponsored team – David Toner, Brian Castillo, Nate Stephens and Patrick Jackson.
Morning Second Place Team: Ron Murphy, Ken Rush and Courtney Rochell of Barber’s Dairy.
Morning Third Place Team: Vernon Price of Supervalu, Jay Holloway of Hometown Market and David Wright and Ron McClellan of Food Outlet.
Morning Closest to the Pin: John Gross, Mrs. Stratton’s Salads
Morning Longest Drive: Jon Bolle of Federated Insurance.
Afternoon First Place Team: Phillip Davis, John Bryant, Jacob Sim and Ken Herron of A&R Supermarkets
Afternoon Second Place Team: Don Minor, Bevco Beverages; Greg Wilson, Advantage Solutions and Scott O’Brien, Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Company.
Afternoon Third Place Team: Wayne McKnight, Chris Turner, Brad Flinn and Ken Edison of Buffalo Rock Company.
Afternoon Closest to the Pin: Ken Herron, A&R Supermarkets; Afternoon Longest Drive: Andy Byars, Byars | Wright.
The Alabama Grocers Education Foundation Golf Outings would not be as successful without the many companies that sponsored this event and contributed their goods. The 2017 Presenting Sponsor was Bimbo Bakeries. Additional sponsors of the April 2017 Spring Tournament included 5 Hour Energy, A&R Supermarkets, Advantage Solutions/Palermo’s, Associated Grocers of the South, Associated Wholesale Grocers Gulf Division, Associated Wholesale Grocers Nashville Division, Barber’s Dairy, Bevco Beverages, Buffalo Rock/Pepsi, Bunzl Distribution/Pactiv, Byars | Wright, Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc., Dutch Farms, EDLINCO, Federated Insurance, Flowers Baking Company, Frito-Lay, Golden Flake Snack Foods, Lighting Specialists, Inc, Merrill Lynch, Mission Foods, Mitchell Grocery Corporation, Mrs. Stratton’s Salads, Peake & Associates, Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Company, Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc, R.L. Zeigler, Red Diamond, Snyders-Lance, Super-Valu, The Hershey Company, Tyson, United-Johnson Brothers of Alabama, Wells Enterprises.
The next Education Foundation fundraiser will be a Silent Auction at the AGA Convention, July 24-26, 2017 at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Destin, Florida. Please visit www.alabamagrocers.org for more information.