PHOENIX, AZ – January 24, 2011 – Fred Ball, chairman of Balls Food Stores, received the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Sidney R. Rabb Award today for his exceptional service to the community, and strong advocacy on behalf of the supermarket industry. The award was presented at FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference in Phoenix, AZ.
     Ball began his career in the grocery business when he was 10 years old, keeping the potato bin filled at his parent’s grocery store in Kansas City. Ball says there was never any question of what he would do when it came time for him to choose a career. The grocery business was ingrained in him and he was named a store manager shortly after graduating from Kansas University. He was named president of Balls Food Stores in the mid-1960s.

     Ball learned from his parents one very important key to business success: if you take care of your teammates — as they are called at the 29 Price Chopper stores and Hen House Markets, your teammates will take care of your customers and your customers will take care of your company.

     Balls Food Stores is now run by his son David and has always been dedicated to providing the best possible grocery shopping experience. Ball is considered an innovator and never shied away from trying something new. When the United States was suffering from high inflation levels in the 1970s, Ball decided to try a new concept — a bare bones, warehouse market with the lowest possible prices. It was an immediate success as customers stormed the Price Chopper stores, often requiring the doors be locked in order to control the number of people in the store at one time.

      Ball served on the FMI Board of Directors from 1995 to 2005 and played an integral role in supporting FMI’s independent operator initiatives.

     Ball served as chairman of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG), one of the largest grocery wholesalers in the country, for 28 years. During his tenure at AWG, he helped grow sales from $1 billion per year to more than $5 billion a year.

Balls Food Stores are long-time supporters of KVC Behavioral HealthCare, a private, not-for-profit organization providing healthcare, education, and social services to at-risk children and their families in Kansas. More than 30 years ago, Ball and his family started a charity golf tournament to benefit KVC. Balls Food Stores has raised more than $3 million for KVC and other children’s charities in the metropolitan Kansas City area.
FMI established the Sidney R. Rabb Award in 1977 to honor supermarket industry leaders for outstanding service to the community, consumers and the industry. Its namesake pioneered the consumer- and community-driven role of the supermarket as chief executive of The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company.

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.

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Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its 1,500 member companies — food retailers and wholesalers — in the United States and around the world. FMI’s U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores and 14,000 pharmacies. Their combined annual sales volume of $680 billion represents three-quarters of all retail food store sales in the United States. FMI’s retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent supermarkets. Its international membership includes 200 companies from more than 50 countries. FMI’s associate members include the supplier partners of its retail and wholesale members.