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    FMI Names Store Manager Finalists

    The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) yesterday revealed the nine finalists in its 11th annual Store Manager Awards competition.

    The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) yesterday revealed the nine finalists in its 11th annual Store Manager Awards competition. Three grand-prize winners will be chosen from the finalists and revealed at FMI 2010 on May 12 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

    “Store managers are responsible for enhancing business operations and providing excellent customer service,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “This important award recognizes those truly outstanding leaders who train and mentor their associates, are actively involved in their communities and are connected to their customers.”

    The finalists were chosen because of their ability to develop programs that resulted in positive growth and customer satisfaction at their stores during the past 12 to 18 months. They were additionally recognized for leading, mentoring and motivating store associates; balancing people skills and operations skills; communicating company goals and store milestones to employees; and boosting the financial performance of their respective stores.

    FMI will name one grand-prize winner in three categories: Category A (one-49 stores); Category B (50-199 stores) and Category C (200 or more stores). Judges received stories submitted by the managers’ supervisors or store associates, and rated what they read with regard to originality, creativity and the manager’s impact on sales growth, customer satisfaction and community service.

    All of the finalists will receive two free registrations for FMI 2010, three nights of hotel accommodations in Las Vegas, and an engraved award. The three-grand prize winners will each get a $1,000 check.

    The finalists are as follows:

    Category A

    Michael MacRae, store manager at Byerly’s in Eagan, Minn., fosters an environment of learning and professional development within his store; encourages creativity and publicly recognizes employee success; and helps the community by offering free diabetes and cholesterol screenings, sponsoring a local art festival, and helping local charity organizations raise needed funds, among other activities.

    Dave McCleery, store director of Russ’s Market in Lincoln, Neb., is known as a relationship builder who takes an interest in his team and his community; conducts many special events throughout the year to promote sales, including a Julia Child look-alike contest; and increased sales at his location 11.6 percent during the past two years.

    Jeremy Ruppel, store director at Niemann Foods, Inc. in Dixon, Ill., improved bottom-line profits at his store by more than 33 percent; offers events such as Customer Appreciation Breakfasts, Halloween parades, and an early-morning coffee club with Bingo every week; and raises money on behalf of many local charities through special events.

    Category B

    Sharon Boyett, store director at Brookshire Grocery Co. in Monroe, La., uses contests to improve team performance, award employees and create a fun work environment; conducts monthly classes for her team that focus on a particular product in the store to educate them about items from different departments; and uses theme events throughout the store to increase sales, including a tailgate demonstration day and Friday night wine and deli pairings.

    Phyllis Scott, store manager of the Food City store in Vansant, Va., manages the most profitable location in the company; is a leader in gross-profit performance due to her innovative and creative merchandising strategies, and was able, with the assistance of here team, to keep her store open by generator power when most of the county had lost power after paralyzing snowstorms.

    Ed White, store director at Raley’s in Elk Grove, Calif., walks every department on a daily basis; has increased the store’s net margin, reduced labor costs and lowered shrink in the past year; and promotes sales by offering a weekly wine tasting paired with fine foods available in the deli and bakery, among many other special events.

    Category C

    Jamie Franck, store director at Hy-Vee, Inc. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, spends a lot of time mentoring and training his employees, and inspires them to be creative and smart operators; has increased sales 33 percent in four years at his store; runs a location that consistently ranks as one of the top gross profit margin stores in the company; and has a passion for promoting health and wellness.

    Walt Leonard, store manager at Publix Super Markets, Inc. in Smyrna, Ga., takes part in the Publix Mentor Program; holds daily huddle meetings, weekly coaches’ meetings and quarterly store meetings; and has increased gross and net profit at his store, as well as increased items per labor hour.

    Molly Stiles, store manager of the Kroger store in Farragut, Tenn., believes that supporting grass-roots organizations is crucial to becoming the center of the community; holds daily meetings with her team leaders to solve problems and identify opportunities; and has, along with her team, helped three other stores train associates in leadership, merchandising and team-building standards and expectations.

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