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Keith Johanneson, president and CEO of Johanneson’s Inc., is the 2011 recipient of the Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, presented Saturday during the 2011 National Grocers Association Convention and Supermarket Synergy Showcase in Las Vegas.
The award, established in 2009 by Kraft Foods Inc., highlights and rewards retailers that have shown the most tangible example of persistence, vision and creative entrepreneurship throughout the past year. Nash-Finch Co., a Minneapolis-based food distributor, Johanneson for the honor.
“Keith is a true visionary,” said Christopher Brown, Nash Finch Wholesale president and COO. “During this challenging time where many businesses are struggling, Keith focuses on keeping the entrepreneurial spirit of the independent retailer alive. Keith’s belief in the importance of the hometown grocery store, his heart for local community involvement, and his ability to offer jobs and career growth for many, is exemplary.”
Johanneson’s began in the early 1950s, when the company was created by Thelma and John Johanneson in a small neighborhood supermarket in Fargo, N.D. The business then expanded to Bemidji, Minn., where the company remains based today. Keith, who started his grocery career as a clerk in his father’s store, was named president when John retired in the early 1970s. Today, Johanneson’s Inc. employs more than 1,300 associates and operates more than 20 businesses, including supermarkets, convenience stores, liquor stores, fast-food operations and real estate development companies, throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
“I am honored to have been nominated by Nash Finch, an organization that also places a very high value on the success of independent supermarket retailers,” Johanneson said. “It is gratifying to be recognized for the work that has been my personal passion for more than 50 years.”