By: Jordan Pietrak, Manager, Education, Food Marketing Institute
Winner of FMI Store Manager Awards Fernando Noriega

While FMI Connect is the premier venue for spotlighting food retail’s latest trends and technology, at the end of the day, it’s the people who make this industry tick. The FMI Store Manager Awards give much-deserved recognition to the best of the best, and celebrate the people who drive our food retail industry.

With the recent launch of our 2016 Store Manager Awards program, we wanted to share inspirational stories from the professionals on the front lines through a series of interviews with past Store Manager Award winners. We’ll ask questions focusing on them – their experiences with the program, new opportunities they’ve been able to pursue since winning the award, new achievements, and any significant changes in the store they manage and in their community.

To start, let’s catch up with our 2013 Category B winner Fernando Noriega, store manager at United Supermarkets, LLC, in Amarillo, Texas. Noriega says he started in the grocery industry while still in high school. “In the beginning, like most people, I was just looking for a job while in high school,” said Noriega.  “It started there, and really got in my blood. I haven’t looked back since.” What hooked Noriega on working in food retail were the people. “I love the wonderful relationships that have transpired being around my colleagues and our shoppers,” said Noriega.  

When he was selected to be a finalist in the FMI Store Manager Awards in 2013, Noriega said he was excited and honored to be considered by his peers in the grocery industry for the award. When he actually won, he was really amazed and celebrated with his co-workers at the event. “Many of my United team were at the Future Leaders program at FMI Connect, so we all went out for a big meal to celebrate. Calls started flooding in from my family and store associates back home congratulating me. It was an awesome experience,” said Noriega.

After returning home, Noriega said the celebration continued. “I became a local celebrity for some time, which really brought positive attention to our store.” Click here to see a great article about Noriega in his local news. As time has gone on, the honor or winning the FMI Store Manager Award hasn’t faded for Noriega. “I’m a few years removed from the award, but I believe it has helped and will continue to help my career in the long-term. It’s something that is mentioned by my company regularly, and has only brought positive attention to myself and our store.”

Stay tuned for the next installment in the FMI Store Manager Award Winners: Where Are You Now? series. Know a fabulous store manager? Visit to nominate them for the 2016 FMI Store Manager Awards.