Unified Grocers CEO Al Plamann Receives Humanitarian Industry Award

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today announced the recipient of the Herbert Hoover Award, CEO of Unified Grocers, Inc., Alfred Plamann. At this year’s FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, FMI acknowledged Plamann for his humanitarian business efforts by presenting him with this food retail industry honor.

FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin championed, “Al Plamann is legendary among wholesalers and his abiding commitment to serving independent retailers mirrors his altruistic regard for the individual.”

Plamann has a long leadership history with the company.  Prior to his present position, which he has held since 2007, Plamann was president and CEO of Unified Western Grocers (1999-2007), president and CEO of Certified Grocers of California (1994-1999) and Chief Financial Officer, Certified Grocers of California. Unified Grocers operates in a culturally diverse marketplace, and Plamann continues to be a strong advocate for representing the evolving tastes and needs of the cooperative wholesaler’s members and customers.

Joe Sheridan, president and COO of Wakefern Food Corp., commented on Plamann’s honor, saying, “Every industry has its icons–Al is that icon in the supermarket industry. He is an innovator–laying the framework for the buying consortium to which Wakefern belongs; he is an unending source of wisdom and insight in an increasingly complex world; and he has set the bar high when it comes to the integrity and principles by which he conducts himself.  Al has also created a member-driven culture at Unified that is a model for other cooperatives. He embodies the spirit of the Herbert Hoover Award and is well deserving of it.”

President of Unified Grocers, Bob Ling, has worked with Plamann for more than 16 years and shares the corporation’s passion for which Plamann is being recognized. In particular, Ling reflected on the philanthropic efforts of his colleague, noting, “Universally, he’s respected as an opinion leader and he’s been thoughtful throughout our history–everyone agrees that he’s a good man.”

Included in his community outreach programs are an internship program for high school graduating seniors that Plamann launched more than 15 years ago.  The innovative program provides students with a paying job for the summer that not only is educational but also provides them with an insider’s look at the food industry. Ling noted that all of Unified’s associates look forward to the annual program because it provides a service to young people in a number of communities in which the company conducts business. Over time, the program has grown from Southern California-only to now include Northern California, Portland and Seattle.

Plamann is active with the Weingart Center Association, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to homeless people in the Los Angeles area. Plamann also is active in his support of the Boy Scouts, City of Hope and other community-based groups. Ling further commented on Plamann’s volunteerism, saying, “Al drives the company by leading by example and we emulate his approach; service to our members and the communities in which we conduct business is engrained in our company culture.”

Plamann’s advisory role extends to his tenure as a board member of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Town Hall of Los Angeles; a Board of Visitors member of the George L. Graziadio School of Business & Management — Pepperdine University; a member of the Southern California Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors; vice chairman of the Twelfth District Economic Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve; vice chairman of the FMI Board of Directors and board member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association. Notably, in February of 2004, he was inducted into the California Grocers Association Hall of Achievement.

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