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The Grocery Manufacturers Association’s (GMA) kicked off its 2009 Executive Conference on Sunday, Aug. 30, held this year at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The confernece, which brings together thought leaders from around the world to share and promote new ideas and successful business practices for succeeding in today’s challenging economy, wraps today with sessions focused on local competition and social networking.
“For over 100 years, GMA has served as a laboratory for new ideas and new ways of thinking that help our member companies connect with their consumers and grow their bottom line and do both in a responsible way,” said Pamela G. Bailey, GMA’s president and CEO. “When we developed the themes for the conference – leadership, collaboration and innovation – we sought to build a cutting-edge agenda that ties those lofty virtues to the real-world challenges they face each and every day.”
The conference program offered an in-depth look at the most pressing issues impacting the consumer packaged goods industry such as food safety, health and wellness, environmental sustainability and customer collaboration. Broader business topics such as the current outlook for the economy, CEO succession planning and the potential impact of the H1N1 flu virus on workforces were also featured on the agenda.
More than 400 CPG industry executives attended the conference, including manufacturer CEOs and top executives; retail trading partners from the grocery, mass, drug and convenience channels; and more than 30 representatives from allied trade groups based in the U.S. and abroad.
The 2009 conference also features a special tribute to Feeding America, the largest American hunger-relief organization. Feeding America, formerly known as Second Harvest, operates a network of 206 food banks providing food to more than 25 million hungry Americans each year.
“GMA has been a partner with Feeding America for almost 30 years and it is our privilege to honor this organization’s vital work,” said Bailey. “With emergency food requests up 30 percent across the country from 2008, it is particularly important at this time that we recognize and recommit ourselves to supporting the invaluable service this organization provides on a daily basis.”
A highlight of the event was the presentation of the group’s highest honor, the Hall of Achievement Awards, to Jeffrey Noddle, executive chairman of Supervalu, Inc., and Robert E. Rich, Jr., chairman of Rich Products Corp.
“The addition of Jeff Noddle to the list of Hall of Achievement Award winners makes it that much more impressive,” said Bailey. “Not only has he realized extraordinary success as a business man in the hyper-competitive retail sector, but under Jeff’s leadership, Supervalu has proven to be a truly collaborative trading partner to GMA member companies and a model corporate citizen. He is a credit to our industry and it is a pleasure to recognize his many contributions with this award.”
Throughout his career, Noddle has held a number of leadership positions across Supervalu’s retail and supply chain operations and was named CEO in 2000. The company’s 2006 acquisition of Albertsons -- the largest-ever in the grocery retail business -- more than doubled the company’s annual revenue, doubled its store base and quadrupled its workforce.
Noddle is the immediate past chairman of the board of directors of The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and serves as a member of the boards of directors of Donaldson Company, Inc., Ameriprise Financial, Inc., The Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota, the Independent Grocers Alliance, Inc. (IGA), and the Academy of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University. In addition, he is a member of The Business Council, a national organization of CEOs. He is also active in Minneapolis civic affairs, currently serving on the Greater Twin Cities United Way board of directors and executive committee, the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management’s Board of Overseers, and as a member of the executive committee of the Minnesota Business Partnership.
In citing Rich’s induction, Bailey said, “The GMA Hall of Achievement would be incomplete without Bob Rich. “While growing his family business into one of the most prolific food manufacturers in the world, he remained steadfast in his commitment to serving the CPG industry at large, exemplified by his 22 years as a member of the GMA board of directors. Bob’s distinguished record of service to his industry and his community is second to none.”
Rich is chairman of the Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich Products Corp., which has annual sales in excess of $2.8 billion and more than 7,300 associates worldwide. The company manufactures more than 2,000 products, which can be found in 85 countries across the globe. His tenure on the GMA board of directors, from 1984-2006, is the longest in GMA history. He was chairman of the GMA board from 1999 to 2001. He is active on several corporate boards and organizations including The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Extra Mile Transportation, Inc., and The International Game Fish Association. He is also a member of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Leadership Council and the United States Squash Association, and is a spokesman for Meals on Wheels and a life member of the Distinguished Order of Zerocrats. Rich is also a past chairman of the Uniform Code Council as well as the National Frozen Food Association, one of the youngest ever to head this leadership group of more than 1,600 distributors, brokers and manufacturers.
The GMA Hall of Achievement Award honors the extraordinary service and contributions of the consumer packaged goods industry’s most distinguished leaders. Established in 1984, 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the award whose past recipients include Stephen Sanger of General Mills, Inc., Jim Kilts of The Gillette Company and Joseph Pichler of The Kroger Co.