Meet our GFIEF
Tell us about your industry background:
Like so many other retailers, I started off bagging groceries many years ago. I spent my first 23 years with Winn Dixie, where I had the opportunity to serve in many operations and merchandising positions. I was a district manager when I left the chain stores to focus on the independent market. For the next 15 years, I worked for MDI as the southern regional sales manager. Seven years ago, I came to work for Quality Foods as the Vice President of Operations.
You have worked for a chain store, a grocery wholesaler and now an independent retailer. What do you like best about working for Quality Foods?
My immediate answer is that the best thing about working for Quality Foods is the great people who work for this company. We have some of the greatest associates in the world. Our President, Verlin Reece, is a jewel of a person to work with and have as a friend.
As an independent retailer, it is great to be able to be nimble, and to be able to do what is best for our customers without having to wait on corporate approval. It is also extremely rewarding to have the personal connections in the communities where we operate.
Let’s talk about working in the grocery industry during a pandemic. What is the biggest lesson you have learned?
We have to be ready to adapt at the drop of a hat to keep up with the ever-changing wants and needs of our customers and associates, while staying abreast of changes in laws that affect how we operate our stores. Also, we must always be aware of the bigger picture when making decisions inside the four walls of our store.
What was your biggest surprise?
I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise because I spoke about our people above, but with all of the “above and beyond” that was asked of our people, no one complained. You would think when you are changing schedules daily due to late trucks, people would have been upset. I am sure they may not have been happy, but they did whatever it took to take care of our customers, and they did it with a smile. We had every department helping other departments to stay business ready. It showed me how much they all care for each other and about our company.
This one is easy. I am sure like all retailers it continues to be product availability and transportation of that product.
If you were not a grocer, what would your fantasy job look like?
I really have never thought about that since I have been in the grocery business since high school. If I had to come up with a dream job, I guess it would be something in the golf industry. Maybe even owning a golf course.
What do you have to teach? What do you have to learn?
Let’s start with the easy part of this question, what I have to learn. As we all know, we hope we continue learning every day. The pandemic has changed a lot of the norms of industry. I think I need to now, more than ever before, look for new and better ways to meet the needs of our customer.
What do I have to teach? To be a good leader, one must show genuine concern for employees and their individual lives. I have heard it said, people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care. Don’t just say you care, show that you care.
Tell us about your family
My wife Lou and I have been married for 39 years. We have two adult children, our son Jamie and daughter Becky. They are both married to great spouses and between them we have seven wonderful grandchildren!
What does your down time look like?
It is amazing how grands change that part of your life. Lou and I try to get together with our grandchildren as often as we can around their busy schedules. I am an avid golfer and really enjoying playing when I have the opportunity. Lou and I also have several couples that we like to travel with and get together with on a regular basis.
Who is the cook in your family? What is your favorite thing to cook?
Lou is the cook at our house, and you can tell by looking at me, she is a great one. I do enjoy cooking on the grill. I would have to say there is nothing better than a great Quality Foods steak cooked on a charcoal grill. My recipe is pretty simple - salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little teriyaki sauce.
What is the biggest challenge for the Foundation?
Fundraising! Our major fundraisers were tied to our Spring golf tournament and the convention, which had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. Our Trustees are dedicated and creative, so we continue to look for some innovative ways to raise money to support the Foundation. We have not been able to meet in person to plan, so we are learning to use other methods of meeting to brainstorm ideas.
With so many families out of work, our mission to provide scholarships to assist with college is more important than ever. Our trustees are so innovative, I know we will come up with ways to make up for the loss of our in-person events.
If anyone has any creative ideas, I would love to hear from you!
The Foundation is always looking for leaders. What are the qualities needed to be a good Trustee?
A good trustee must care about the GFIA and what the organization does for our industry. I would say the easy thing to do is look at our great group of trustees. They are all loyal and hardworking. They work selflessly for the foundation, and genuinely love fulfilling the education needs of our members.
We currently have a great group of volunteers that help us at events. If you think you may have interest in being a trustee, volunteering is a great way to find out about what we do and will help you decide to join us!
We are fortunate to have him as our Foundation Chairman!