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FMI Midwinter: Morganthall, Kehe Receive Highest Awards


The Food Marketing Institute presented its highest honors to three industry executives this weekend during its annual Midwinter Conference in Miami Beach.

FMI presented its Sidney R. Rabb Award to Fred Morganthall, executive vice president for retail operations at The Kroger Co. and former FMI chairman. Jerry Kehe, chairman of the board of KeHE Distributors, received FMI’s Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Service Award. J. Alexander J. “Sandy” M. Douglas Jr., executive vice president of The Coca-Cola Co. and president of Coca-Cola North America, received FMI’s William H. Albers Award for Industry Relations.

Also at Saturday night’s awards banquet, Randy Edeker – chairman, CEO and president of Hy-Vee Inc. – received the Grocery Manufacturers Association Industry Collaboration Leadership Award.

Morganthall: Selfless Dedication

A 37-year grocery industry veteran, Morganthall’s approach to business has been described by his peers as selfless, elevating the successes of the food retail industry beyond his own professional objectives.

“Fred has proven to be one of my most trusted counselors and his altruistic style of leadership is well documented in his many accomplishments, which include helping chart FMI’s strategic path and focus our organizational framework,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and CEO. “Fred embodies the spirit of collaboration and visionary inspiration needed in our industry, as we work to achieve a greater goal of feeding families and enriching lives.”

FMI Chairman Jerry Garland, retired president and CEO of Associated Wholesale Grocers, recollected in a video testimonial, “By soliciting feedback from the entire organization and working through various committee assignments, Fred oversaw the translation of those ideas to paper in the form of a structured, strategic plan for FMI. Of course, the hardest part of initiating such a plan is getting buy-in from his peer group – about 100 CEOs serving on the FMI Board. Fred was able to complete that project, and today that plan continues to serve as a roadmap for FMI.”

Morganthall began his career with Proctor & Gamble in 1973 and took leadership roles at Spartan Stores, Viking Foods and Harris Teeter, where he invested nearly three decades.

Garland noted, “Fred is an exceptional leader who’s well respected throughout the food industry. Fred continues to work tirelessly for the industry: Setting agendas, chairing committees, and providing feedback to ensure that FMI stays focused.”

Morganthall served as FMI’s chairman from 2011 to 2014 and was a member of the Spartan Stores Board of Directors from 2007 to 2012.

Kehe: Humble Advocate

“Jerry Kehe believes in the inherent right of people to access safe, nutritious and affordable food, and the spirit of compassion with which he puts those values into action, means he embodies the very essence of the Hoover award,” Sarasin said in presenting Kehe with the Hoover Award. “Not only is he a humble advocate for local communities, he finds creative ways to weave his commitment to neighborly care into the fabric of his business practice, serving as a wholesaler to independent operators as well as global food retailers.”

Kehe grew his company from 40 employees in the late 1960s to more than 4,700 in present day, instituting the practice of giving back 10 percent of all pretax company profits to those less fortunate. Thirty-one years later, KeHE became employee-owned, which the company attributes to Jerry Kehe’s focus on shaping the company’s ethos.

“What Jerry set in motion has become a truly unique culture; a culture of employees who long to serve and to give back to those less fortunate,” said KeHE Distributors President and CEO Brandon Barnholt. “This culture changes how our people view their jobs and their private lives.”

KeHE Cares, the philanthropic arm of the wholesaler, oversees donations and provides aid to people in need in more than 22 countries, and in 20 different regions throughout the United States and Canada.

Barnholt recollected that Kehe was just as interested in his cultural leadership as his technical leadership when he brought him on board eight years ago: “We’re fortunate to be a part of this great industry and more fortunate that Jerry initiated a culture that gives back to those less fortunate. What a blessing.”

Douglas: Courageous Leader

In presenting Douglas with the Albers Award, Sarasin said, “Sandy is a stalwart champion and courageous leader of industry causes; he willingly takes on the thorniest issues within our supply chain and continues working on them with candor and transparency until he and those on the journey with him find the rose at the end of the stem.”

Douglas remarked on receiving the honor, “This award is about the partnerships and actions that we have taken together as an industry to advance the quality, speed and effectiveness of our service to our customers.”

His peers suggest that Douglas’ authenticity makes it natural for him to confront tough issues with integrity. Danny Wegman, CEO of Wegmans Food Markets offered in a video testimonial, “It’s pretty hard not to like Sandy – he loves to smile and that draws everyone in.”

Wegman continued, “It was in the early 2000s that I got to see another side of Sandy: Various groups had sprung up to synchronize data for the industry. I was quite puzzled why various groups were trying to provide a single source of the truth. Fortunately, Sandy agreed with me. Eventually, we merged the groups into what is now GS1.”

The resulting data hub, which is now known as 1WorldSync, is part of the GS1 family of companies, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the adoption and implementation of standards-based global supply chain solutions. Douglas assumed numerous leadership roles at GS1, including chairman from 2007-09.

Douglas has served as co-chair of FMI and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) Trading Partner Alliance since 2013.

Edeker: Dedicated to Collaboration

Hy-Vee’s Edeker received GMA’s Industry Collaboration Leadership Award, which recognizes an industry leader who has demonstrated excellence in promoting collaboration among CPG trading partners.

“Randy Edeker is a prime example of the leadership and dedication that is crucial to successful trading partner collaboration,” said Pamela Bailey, GMA’s president and CEO. “Randy’s passion for and commitment to collaboration across FMI, GMA and other allied trade organizations is an illustration of the great partner he is to the grocery retail community.”

A 34-year veteran of Hy-Vee, Edeker started his career with the Iowa-based grocery chain as a part-time store employee. He worked his way up the ranks of various store assignments and joined the retailer’s corporate staff in 1995. Edeker became VP of marketing in 2004, senior VP of retail operations in 2006, EVP and COO in 2008 and, a year later, was named president.

A board and executive committee member of FMI, Edeker was selected as 2014 CEO of the Year by Retail Leader, sister magazine to Progressive Grocer.

Follow reports from FMI Midwinter on Twitter at @jimdudlicek and @pgrocer, and at


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