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Regional independent Northgate González Markets, which operates 38 supermarkets in Southern California, received the the 2014 “Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award” from wholesaler Unified Grocers during a special awards dinner last night at Tamayo Restaurant in Los Angeles. This is the ninth year that Unified has presented the award to an outstanding independent retailer.
The annual award is named after Ben Schwartz, a former chairman of Unified, and is presented to an independent retail grocer or grocery company that is a leader and innovator in the industry. The award recognizes retailers who, by 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. To be eligible, retailers must be — or have been — a member of Unified Grocers or one of its predecessor companies.
In presenting the award, Bob Ling, Unified’s president and CEO, said that in addition to being an outstanding retailer, Northgate thrives because the González family has a strong set of values that define who they are and shapes everything they do.
Oscar Gonzalez (at podium) accepts Ben Schwartz award from Unified CEO Bob Ling
“The award carries name of a true retail visionary,” said Ling. "The idea behind it is to recognize someone in our retail community who exemplifies Ben Schwartz’s spirit, character and ultimately the vision that he demonstrated throughout his long career. We’re proud to give this award to the González family. Their passion toward customers and retailing is clearly evident as you walk through their stores. Northgate González Markets is a great company and the best is yet to come.”
“On behalf of my family, I want to thank you for honoring us,” said Northgate González Markets Co-President Oscar González. “This is a very special award for us. Ben has been a mentor to the family.”
In addition to the award that was presented to Northgate González, a duplicate is on permanent display in the lobby of Unified’s Commerce, Calif.-based headquarters. A plaque recognizing Northgate González as the 2014 winner has been added to the permanent award.
Ben Schwartz (left) and Oscar Gonzales