ARLINGTON, VA. - FMI – The Food Industry Association named four grocery store managers as the winners of the 2020 Store Manager Awards in recognition of remarkable leadership and career achievements. 

“Grocery workers have continued to feed and protect citizens throughout the pandemic, earning the respect and recognition of their communities as true heroes in the public battle to mitigate COVID-19’s dangers and anxieties,” said Leslie Sarasin, FMI’s president and chief executive officer. “Not only has their leadership enabled the industry to rise to this emergency’s operational challenges, but grocery workers have amplified their community support efforts, providing neighborly help to the vulnerable shoppers in their communities through  food bank donations, food drives, new in-store shopping measures and a host of other activities.”    

The winners of the 21st Store Manager Awards are: 

  • Jim Grochowalski, Martin’s Super Markets - “Grochowalski earns high marks for his work. Industry longevity has also taught him the importance of innovation in delivering satisfying customer experiences. He fosters customer loyalty and ensures optimal store conditions by reviewing shopper comment reports with all of his store’s employees. Grochowalski boosted his store’s customer count by 2.58% last year and turned steadily declining sales into a 1.3% increase. If bad feedback happens, Grochowalski takes action. After fielding customer complaints about rambunctious teens from the nearby high school gathering at the store café, he created an after-school program staffed by employees. Grochowalski’s lead-by-example philosophy and enthusiasm for providing an unmatched shopping experience ensures loyalty in not only his employees, but his customers as well.” 

  • Gary Cottingham, The GIANT Company - “Connecting with others through communication is a hallmark of Cottingham’s managerial style. His nominators cite his authentic communications that combine the big picture, effective storytelling and encouragement of feedback. Cottingham has led the company in customer count, total sales and percentage of store sales for the new GIANT DIRECT service that allows customer to shop online for pickup or delivery. Diversity initiatives are important to Cottingham, who serves on a new business resource group for team members called MOSAIC. His priorities extend to the community, where he served as vice president of the National Black MBA in Harrisburg and has coordinated programs and scholarship opportunities for teens and young adults. He created a store newsletter that outlines important information and transparency, resulting in an above-average total store engagement of 80%.” 

  • Jen Book, Hy-Vee - “A believer in paying leadership forward, Jen Book has helped many employees advance and run their own departments and, in some cases, their own stores, by giving them special duties and projects. You can also find her talking with customers on a daily basis — in the case of some customers who come in more than one a day, really regularly. Among other reasons, the store’s impeccable customer service has helped the location reap higher year-over-year increases. Book leads her store’s participation in local programs with anti-hunger, veterans, children’ s hospital, school and police and fire organizations. When tornadoes tore through the area last year, she sprang into action, providing water and food for cleanup crews. Book was elected to the Hy-Vee Hall of Fame for store directors in 2019, lauded for her 30-plus years of service and strong management skills.” 

  • Captain Raymond Mashudu Mutangwa, SPAR Thohoyandou, Superfecta Trading - “Captain Mutangwa believes that offering exceptional service with a direct, innovative and sincere approach distinguishes SPAR Thohoyandou, one of the company’s biggest stores, in a competitive market. He entrusts local farmers to grow the freshest-grown vegetables for the store’s produce department, passing along savings to the consumer. Mutangwa offers residents a chance to gain employment, through jobs and internships. His store team gives back in many ways, like painting a local care center, donating food to needy families, giving computers to local schools and arranging for health care workers to present programs on basic healthcare at local schools.”