The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) honored Richard Parkinson, former president and CEO of Associated Food Stores, with the FMI Herbert Hoover Award for his humanitarian service in the food retail and wholesale industry. The award was presented at FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference in Orlando, Fla.
Associated Food Stores is best known for its camaraderie of independent operators across the United States. Parkinson is a prime example of this development from his start in 1984 as the director of store development and retail finance, moving to vice president and executive vice president, until finally serving as the president and CEO in 1994. Parkinson retired at the end of 2011.
Parkinson’s mantra to his success includes a critical component: People. His commitment to fostering growth was not only with the customers in the stores, but also with the associates who run them. Parkinson worked toward building company unity across all the Associated Food Stores. His work didn’t go unnoticed, as evidenced by accolades including, “Grocer of the Year” in 1996 from Food People magazine in recognition of his accomplishments and influence in the industry.
“Rich is a dedicated, open-minded and well-respected influencer who often shaped strategy in retailer share groups at FMI,” said FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin. “Rich uses his voice selectively, but when he does, it reverberates throughout the industry.”
In concert with this commitment to his associates, Parkinson made a point to visit all of the 600 independently owned stores on his motorcycle. This tour throughout the U.S. was a way to foster employee relationships and learn about operations, keeping a close bond between wholesaler and retailer.
Parkinson’s dedication is evident through his accomplishments to the retail food industry, including the impressive growth in the purchase of 23 corporately owned stores. In addition to growing the brand, Parkinson’s tenure involved the completion of one of the West’s largest, most efficient warehouse facilities in its one-million-square-foot Farr West distribution center.
Despite this expansion, Parkinson always stressed the importance of localization and focusing on the communities in which his stores serve. Parkinson’s passion for all of Associated Food Stores’ branches is still felt throughout the employees as they work to continue his legacy.