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NGA Recognizes Members for Industry Service and Advocacy

Retiring AWG CEO David Smith receives U.S. flag that flew in his honor at U.S. Capitol
Mike Stigers NGA Main Image
Wakefern President Mike Stigers (left) received NGA's Thomas F. Wenning Pinnacle PAC Award from President and CEO Greg Ferrara (center).

The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, honored three members for their commitment, service and political advocacy. The awards were presented during the organization’s Executive Conference and Public Policy Summit, held Oct. 22-25 at the Grand Hyatt, in Washington, D.C. 

Mike Stigers, newly minted president of Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp., received NGA’s Thomas F. Wenning Pinnacle PAC Award, given to NGA members who help further the role and presence of independent grocers and NGA in government and political affairs. Stigers was CEO of Stillwater, Minn.-based Cub Foods while he was NGA board chairman in 2020-22. 

“Mike has played an active role in industry advocacy for many years, devoting countless hours to meeting with policymakers,” said Chris Jones, SVP of government relations and counsel at Washington, D.C.-based NGA. “He understands that advocacy doesn’t end in Washington – it continues at home by building relationships with lawmakers, hosting store visits and showing them the impact of public policy on their home districts.” 

The award was established in 2014 in honor of Tom Wenning, retired NGA EVP and general counsel, for his years of service to the association and the independent grocery industry.

Bob Richardson NGA Main Image
Bob Richardson (left) was presented with the Industry Service Award by NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara.

The association presented its Industry Service Award to Bob Richardson, director of trade and industry relations for The Clorox Co., in Oakland, Calif. This award goes to a person or company whose years of service in the food industry have contributed to better working relations and understanding among retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. Richardson served on the NGA Foundation Board of Regents. 

“Bob is a great friend and a strong advocate for the independent supermarket industry,” noted NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara. “The supermarket industry is one built on a solid foundation of relationships, something that Bob not only understands, but has worked hard to foster and instill in his colleagues during his nearly 25-year career at Clorox.”

NGA also paid homage to David Smith, who is retiring at the end of 2023 as the president and CEO of Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG). At the board of directors dinner, Smith received an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol in his honor. Additionally, U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., recorded a tribute to Smith into the permanent record of the Senate, honoring his legacy at AWG and substantial contributions to the food industry.

“David has been one of our strongest champions for addressing the lack of antitrust enforcement, which has harmed independent retailers, suppliers and communities across the country,” observed Ferrara. “David is authentic, passionate and fiercely protective of the independent grocer, and he has used those qualities to help advance so many important initiatives for NGA and the industry.  Our industry owes him a debt of gratitude as he transitions into a well-deserved retirement.” 

Wakefern comprises nearly 50 members that independently own and operate 360-plus supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Together with its member companies, Wakefern employs nearly 80,000 people. The company is No. 29 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North AmericaAWG is the nation’s largest cooperative food wholesaler to independently-owned grocers, serving 1,100 member companies and more than 3,400 locations across 31 states. The company also operates subsidiary companies that provide real estate and supermarket development services, health and beauty care, general merchandise, pharmaceutical products, specialty foods and natural and organic products. The company is No. 39 on The PG 100.

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