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    Ranch Markets' Mike Provenzano Honored for Innovation

    LOS ANGELES -- Michael A. Provenzano, Jr., president, Pro & Son's, Inc., owner and operator of eight Ranch Markets supermarkets in Southern California and Arizona yesterday was honored with the 2006 "Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award" by Unified Western Grocers during a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Hotel here.

    LOS ANGELES -- Michael A. Provenzano, Jr., president, Pro & Son's, Inc., owner and operator of eight Ranch Markets supermarkets in Southern California and Arizona yesterday was honored with the 2006 "Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award" by Unified Western Grocers during a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Hotel here.

    Named after a long-time UWG director and former chairman, the "Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award" is an honor bestowed annually on an independent retail grocer who is a leader and an innovator in the retail grocery industry. The award recognizes individuals who, through their practice and example, have consistently demonstrated initiative, creativity, and leadership within their own businesses and, in the process, have inspired others to think and act creatively and with passion in the retail grocery field. To be eligible for the award, retailers must be -- or must have been -- a member of Unified Western Grocers or one of its predecessor companies.

    "In awarding this year's 'Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award,' we felt that Mike and his team at Ranch Markets had met a very high threshold of quality in a number of different areas," said Al Plamann, president and c.e.o., UWG. "When you look at the fast growth of this company and how it has literally become a 'model' for successful Hispanic retailing throughout the U.S., it becomes absolutely clear that this is a truly visionary format and retail concept."

    One of the fastest-growing Hispanic supermarket chains in the United States, Ranch Markets strives to re-create the festive atmosphere of a Mexican marketplace inside each one of its stores. It offers an array of prepared, hot Mexican foods for take-home or in-store dining, perimeter departments that emphasize freshness (seafood, produce, creamery, in-store bakery, full-service meat case, tortilleria), and authentic Hispanic grocery and specialty items throughout the store.

    Plamann credited Provenzano for being visionary in another area, as well. "Mike is probably the only retailer I have ever known who built his entire business with his family, as opposed to building the business for his family," Plamann said, referring to Provenzano's four adult sons who help him manage Ranch Markets. "While that may sound like a very subtle distinction, it's really a visionary concept. Building a business with your family not only eliminates the need for a future business transition, it provides built-in succession that helps assure the long-term success of the enterprise."

    In addition to the award that was presented to Provenzano, Plamann said Unified has duplicated the "Ben Schwartz Retail Visionary Award" and put it on permanent display in the lobby of Unified's headquarters building in Commerce, Calif. A plaque signifying Mike Provenzano as the 2006 winner has been added to the permanent award.

    UWG is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the Western United States. Unified and its subsidiaries generated approximately $2.9 billion in sales during fiscal 2005.

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