By: Leslie G. Sarasin, President & CEO, FMI 

There is no higher purpose in business than to provide excellent customer service. Food retailers who understand this fundamental truth and consistently strive to improve their offerings stand out among their industry peers and thereby maximize store success. One such food retailer is Norman Mayne, CEO of Dorothy Lane Market, Inc., and recipient of FMI’s 2022 Sidney R. Rabb Award for Statesmanship. The Sidney R. Rabb Award is FMI’s highest executive distinction, and Norman earned it for producing a lifetime of shopper and employee satisfaction. “I have a wonderful family. They’re my extended family. And that begins with and is the people I get to work with,” Norman said. “They’re our customers, but we consider them friends. They’ve really become our advocates.” 

His commitment to forging a tightknit community in his stores is not surprising given that Norman is no stranger to family in food retail. After all, he grew up working alongside his father, Calvin Mayne, who started the family business as a fruit stand in 1948. “[My] parents… exposed me to this industry and gave me the opportunity to have made my life so wonderful,” said Norman. With an unflinching focus on keeping consumers happy and healthy, he would go on to grow his father’s fruit stand into a widely renowned and beloved food retail brand. 

Dorothy Lane Market’s success as a three-store independent operator with 1,000 valued employees is a testament to Norman’s infectious, innovative spirit. ”One of the things we live by at Dorothy Lane, we call it ready, fire, aim. We try ideas if we hear about it… that’s the only way to go for us.” An example of Norman’s ironclad ingenuity is Club DLM. This highly coveted, hyper-targeted store loyalty program has customers consistently coming back for more. At the time of its creation in 1995, only a handful of retailers around the globe were doing this. His revolutionary strategy of establishing tiers of shopper loyalty and rewarding customers pursuant to their respective tier has drawn hearty praise from food retailers and marketers across the country.  

Never one to settle, Norman is always searching for ways to improve his company’s offerings. To stay up to date on food retail best practices, he regularly consults his colleagues in the industry. Norman said, “My buddies, my friends… I’ve been able to call because I had a problem or an issue, and I needed an opinion. They’ve all been frank with me… and given me good constructive criticism and creative ideas.” 

His life’s work boasts a litany of forward-thinking solutions that maximize customer service and inspire fellow food retail practitioners to match his high standards. The food industry depends on visionaries like Norman to challenge old ideas and chart a brighter course for the future. Are you up to the task? 

Watch Norman’s full acceptance speech below.