Wright's Foodliner Founder and Prez Share Innovation Award

Regional wholesaler Unified Grocers named Richard (Dick) L. Wright, founder, and his son Richard (Rick) L. Wright, Jr., president, Wright's Foodliner, Inc., co-recipients of the 2008 "Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award.

The Wrights own and operate seven Market of Choice supermarkets in Ashland, Eugene, Portland, and West Linn, Ore.

"In awarding this year's 'Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award' we felt that the co-winners, Dick and Rick, exemplified an incredible ability to adapt and survive in the highly competitive grocery business and evolve their company over time to become one of the very best in the retail grocery industry," said Al Plamann, president and c.e.o., Unified Grocers. "The stores themselves are literally masterpieces when you walk inside -- they are beautifully appointed, well designed and immaculate."

The award, named after a long-time director and former chairman of Unified, is presented annually to an independent grocer who is a leader and innovator in the industry. It recognizes individuals who, through 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 retail grocery field. To be eligible, retailers must be -- or must have been -- a member of Unified or one of its predecessor companies.

The Wright's retail grocery business has grown and evolved into one of the most innovative and progressive supermarket organizations in the United States, according to Unified. In 1979, Dick and his wife, Marsha, purchased a single Thriftway Market in Cottage Grove, Ore. The business soon expanded with more stores and the stores were rebranded Price Chopper.

The stores featured everyday low prices and exceptional performance standards. By the year 2000, Rick began providing leadership for modifying the business model to better fit the changing needs of their customers. Together, father and son created the "Market of Choice" format -- a format that now operates under the motto, "Food For the Way You Live." The upscale stores feature a wide assortment of organic and natural foods, quality prepared foods, locally-produced products, and gourmet and specialty products.

"Clearly, Market of Choice would not be the success story it is today without its two key principals. Rick Wright is a visionary -- he understands the trends in the market, he listens to his customers, and then delivers his products and services with a flourish and passion," said Plamann. "Dick Wright, on the other hand, is the anchor of the company -- a person who is responsible for the success and growth of the business over a long period of time. Dick has also served for many years as vice chairman of the Unified Grocers board and as chairman of the board's Audit Committee."
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