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Skogen Named Wisconsin's Grocer of the Year

ONALASKA, Wis. -- Dave Skogen, president and c.e.o. of eight Festival Foods stores in Wisconsin, won't officially receive his Wisconsin Grocers Association (WGA) 2005 Grocer of the Year award until the trade association's annual meeting next month in Green Bay, but he was honored at a surprise ceremony at company headquarters here Friday, with WGA president Brandon Scholz in attendance.

Skogen found out about his latest distinction in a novel way. "My wife, Barb, is an early riser," he explained to Progressive Grocer. "She cut the full-page announcement [placed by the WGA] from the local paper and taped it on the bathroom mirror!"

The presentation took place at one of the company's daily morning "huddle-ups" and included about 25 people, he added.

Asked why he thought he had received such a recognition from the industry, Skogen replied: "I don't know, maybe it was our turn -- seriously, though, I feel we are being honored because we're 'winning,' and when you’re winning, it's a blast. It’s never about how good we are; it's about what's missing -- we look at what we can be instead of what we are."

According to the WGA, "Dave's unique leadership ideas have contributed to his success." These ideas include his reliance on the concept of "servant leadership" to ensure his employees learn the skills necessary to their jobs, and have the opportunity to advance within the organization; his "boomerang theory," which endeavors to entice shoppers to return by providing excellent customer service; a program allowing workers who are students to set aside a portion of their salaries, which he then matches; and public recognition of outstanding associates.

"Dave continues to be committed to the grocery industry, and runs his stores with a hands-on philosophy, spending time meeting customers and making sure his associates are exceeding expectations," the association further noted.

The company, which was founded by Skogen's parents, Paul and Jane, back in 1946, now boasts about 1,400 employees across Wisconsin.

On the subject of expansion, Skogen described his operations as "continually looking to grow," but declined to give further details.
-- Bridget Goldschmidt
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