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Mike Needler, Sr., CEO of Fresh Encounter, was awarded the 2012 Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award at the National Grocers Association's (NGA) board of directors dinner during its annual convention and exposition at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.
Needler, a successful entrepreneur whose business was founded in 1964 and has successfully grown to 29 stores in Ohio and Indiana, is recognized as an outstanding leader in both the industry and his community. A past chairman of NGA and former director of the Ohio Grocers Association, his dedication to the industry also extends to his own employees through recognition awards and scholarships via the Needler Scholarship Foundation.
Needler is also a community leader, supporting hunger relief organizations through personal and in-store initiatives including donating goods and creating the long-running Fresh Encounter Charity Golf Classic.
"Mike is a true example of what it means to be a leader,” said Peter J. Larkin, NGA’s president and CEO. "His tireless contributions to our industry and service to his community exemplify what this award stands for."
The award, presented by Mondelez International, is one of the most prestigious honors awarded to independent grocers who exemplify persistence, vision and creative entrepreneurship.
"We are proud to present this award to Mike Needler," said Don Quigley, president, Mondelez International’s US sales unit. "He is an invaluable asset to the industry, and his innovations and leadership will be remembered for years to come."