The Alabama Grocers Association (AGA) has presented Wade Payne with the National Grocers Association (NGA) Spirit of America Award, in recognition of his commitment to the independent grocery industry. Payne, director of retail operations at Food Giant/Mitchell Grocery, received the award during AGA’s 2022 Annual Convention, held July 25-27 at the Sandestin Beach Resort in Destin, Fla.
“For more than 50 years, Wade Payne … dedicated his time and efforts to independent grocery, which has had a lasting impact on Alabama communities as well as our overall industry,” noted Ellie Taylor, president and CEO of Birmingham-based AGA. “From the store to the statehouse to our nation’s capital, Wade’s ongoing efforts keep a vital industry top of mind for policymakers, reminding them of the impact grocers have in cities and towns across our state and the nation.”
Payne has sat on the AGA board since 2013. He was previously VP legislative chairman and is currently VP membership chairman. Payne is also chairman of NGA’s government relations committee.
“Wade’s leadership in government relations have helped define NGA’s direction and reinforce its mission to advocate for independent grocers at the highest levels in Washington,” said Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based NGA.
Payne (at left in accompanying photo) joined Food Giant, which now has more than 100 employee-owned locations across Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, as a bagger back in 1971. Having held many positions with the company, he currently leads its Birmingham district and is also responsible for direct store delivery and finance, among other functions, for all corporate retail stores served by Albertville, Ala.-based wholesaler Mitchell Grocery Corp. in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. A 1978 graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Payne and his wife have two daughters and five grandchildren.
Established in 1982, the NGA Spirit of America Award honors key industry and community leaders in areas of community service and government relations on behalf of the independent supermarket industry. Previous award recipients include Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford.