LAS VEGAS, NV — May 5, 2008 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) announced the Grand Prize winners of the 2008 Store Manager Awards here today at the FMI Show plus MARKETECHNICS®:

•     Ralph Towery, manager of the MarketPlace Foods store in Minot, ND — Category A, companies with 1-49 stores.

•     Cheryl Rondenelli, manager of a Hannaford Bros. Co. supermarket in Clinton, NY — Category B, companies with 50-199 stores.

•     Mark Halvorson, manager of a Cub Foods store in St. Paul, MN — Category C, companies with 200 or more stores.

Ralph Towery pioneered special promotions at his store to encourage shoppers to choose MarketPlace Foods as the destination for all their grocery needs. For example, a graduation cake promotion in the bakery department has become so popular that the store needs to bring in a semi-tractor trailer to deliver all the pre-ordered cakes.

     His dedication to helping his community has always been strong. Towery has been a great supporter of the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign in Minot. His store offers a variety of awareness events in which proceeds benefit the local hospital cancer unit. He also served as the chairperson of the committee that built a new baseball field for the local youth program.   

Cheryl Rondenelli has managed Hannaford’s Clinton store for 18 months and is noted for always being “on top of her game.”

     The employees at Rondenelli’s store are known within the company to work well together. She is passionate about teaching and training her team and encourages them to never be satisfied with “good enough.”

     She is active in her community and participates in charity walks, fund drives, and event planning for organizations that benefit children, medical research, the local food bank and schools.

Mark Halvorson has been the director of the Cub Foods Midway store for six years.

     He is quick to offer help wherever it is needed. After the Interstate 35 bridge collapse late last summer, Halvorson immediately organized food, water and other essential supplies for rescue workers and others responding to the tragedy. In the days that followed, he became the point person for coordinating Cub’s overall response to the disaster.

     Employees credit him with creating a family atmosphere in the store. They say they know they can reach out to him for help. He has been known to help an employee pay his rent and encourages his employees to finish high school.

Halvorson respects and understands different cultures. His store serves a diverse community whose residents have emigrated from countries including Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Laos and Vietnam. He draws from this diverse market in hiring people. In fact more than half the store’s associates are foreign-born.
The three grand prize winners were chosen from a group of nine finalists. The other six finalists:

  • Jeffrey Iwamuro, manager of a Potash Bros. Market store in Chicago, IL.
  • Dale Kahn, manager of a BI-LO, LLC store in Cleveland, TN.
  • Bob Kees, manager of the Sissonville Foodland in Sissonville, WV.
  • Ramiro Marquez, manager of a Bashas’ store in San Luis, AZ.
  • Mitch Streit, manager of a Hy-Vee, Inc., store in Columbus, NE.
  • Janice Yergeau, manager of a Hannaford Bros. Co. store in Hooksett, NH.

All the finalists received two tickets to the FMI Show plus MARKETECHNICS®, three nights of hotel accommodations in Las Vegas and a special award trophy. The grand prize winners each were presented a $1,000 check at the Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2008 state-of-the-industry session.

For this FMI awards program, companies submit entries that demonstrate how store managers have excelled in serving their customers, companies or communities. The nominees are judged on originality, creativity and the impact on sales growth.