ARLINGTON, VA – January 25, 2010 – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today honored Gary Phillips, retired president and chief executive officer of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG), with the FMI Herbert Hoover Award for his personal and professional excellence in serving the food retail and wholesale industry. The award was presented at FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference in Orlando, FL.

     “Gary embodies the humanitarian ideals this award recognizes,” said FMI president and chief executive officer Leslie G. Sarasin. “While Gary was busy building his career at AWG, he managed to find time to help his community, including the United Way in Springfield, MO where he served as campaign chairman. His work with the Developmental Center of the Ozarks has helped infants, children, and adults who are developmentally disabled to lead full and productive lives in the community.”

     Phillips studied accounting in college and served two-years in the Army with the Medical Corps. After the Army, he worked for a securities company at the Kansas City Board of Trade.

     In 1974, Phillips joined AWG, where he spent 35 years working closely with independent retailers and helping them succeed. Phillips held 11 different positions at AWG, starting as an accountant. After three years, he transferred to the Springfield Division where he was director of administrative services. During the next 18 years, he was instrumental in the largest sales growth the division had ever experienced. He was eventually named senior vice president and division manager and would lead the division to new heights in both sales and profits.

     In 1996, Phillips was promoted to executive vice president and was named the first chief financial officer (CFO) in the company’s history. As CFO, Phillips served as a catalyst in retail as well as wholesale mergers and acquisitions. In 2001, he was named president and CEO. Never before had AWG experienced such record-level sales and patronage as when Phillips was at the helm. It became one of the most powerful retailer-owned grocery cooperatives in the country.

     Phillips has given generously to the industry, serving on the FMI board of directors and as vice chairman of the finance committee from 2007 to 2009.

     The Herbert Hoover award was introduced in 1961, inspired by industry and government campaigns that President Hoover led to deliver food relief to victims of the Boxer Rebellion, World War I and Great Depression. Phillips is the 55th person to receive this award.

The FMI Midwinter Executive Conference is the industry’s education and networking event for top executives of retail, wholesale and supplier companies representing the entire scope of the food and grocery products industry. The conference focuses on the major challenges and opportunities for the food industry.