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Regional wholesaler Unified Grocers honored Superior Grocers, a chain of 36 supermarkets in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, with its 2011 "Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award" during a ceremony held June 7 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Long Beach, Calif.
The award is named after a former Unified chairman, and is presented annually to an independent retail grocer or grocery company that is a leader and innovator in the retail grocery industry. The award recognizes retailers who, through their practice and example, have consistently demonstrated initiative, creativity and leadership within their businesses and, in the process, have inspired others to think and act creatively and with passion in the grocery field, according to Unified. To be eligible, retailers must be — or must have been — a member of Unified Grocers or one of its predecessor companies.
In presenting the award, Al Plamann, CEO of Unified Grocers pointed out that Superior is unique among the previous six Ben Schwartz award recipients. "Superior does not trace its roots back to the 1930s, the '50s or even the '70s,” he said. “Superior opened its first store in Los Angeles in 1981 and has been growing steadily ever since. Such tremendous growth in a relatively short period of time is a remarkable achievement — and it is one of the reasons why they are the recipient of this year's Ben Schwartz Award."
Another reason why Superior won, Plamann said, is because of its dedication and commitment to providing customers with one of the best value propositions in the industry – and holding true to it for more than 30 years. "When you walk into a Superior store today, you find the exact same focus on quality, value and service that customers found when they entered the store three decades ago,” he said. “It's this type of commitment that creates great retail organizations."
Plamann also lauded Superior for their extensive contributions and other efforts to give back to the communities in which Superior operates stores.
In accepting the 2011 Ben Schwartz Award, Mimi Song, president and CEO, Superior Grocers credited her management team and all of the company's employees for making Superior a truly great company. "I never give them enough credit, however, I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them for their dedication and support," she said.
In addition to the award that was presented to Superior Grocers, a duplicate of the "Ben Schwartz Retail Grocer Visionary Award" is on permanent display in the lobby of Unified's headquarters building in Commerce, Calif. A plaque recognizing Superior Grocers as the 2011 winner has been added to the permanent award.
Unified Grocers is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.
The management team at Superior Grocers accepts the 2011 "Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award" from Al Plamann, CEO, Unified Grocers (far right). From left: Larry Ahlstrom, VP, produce; Brad Maehara, VP, center store procurement; Phil Lawrence, COO; Mimi Song, president and CEO; and Will Macias, VP, meat, seafood and bakery.