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Food Marketing Institute honors store managers. (Special Advertising Feature: Focus On).

Effective store managers create outstanding customer service programs and provide volunteer leadership to the communities they serve. For instance, Angel Andujar, Isla Verde Store-Pueblo International, San Juan, Puerto Rico, led a continuous improvement process to increase the store's quality of service and improve the work environment. To achieve maximum success, Andujar involved his employees in designing and implementing, and monitoring the improvement plan. Customers now comment, "It is a pleasure to come shop at this store," and "Finally a store equal to those in the States."

Andujar was one of four winners in the Food Marketing Institute's 2003 Store Manager Superior Service Awards competition to recognize excellence in customer or community service. The winners were announced from a field of 20 finalists during the 2003 FMI Show on May 4-6 in Chicago.

"Exemplary store managers are essential to successful operations," said Brian Tully, senior vice president, FMI. "FMI applauds all of the finalists for their dedication and excellence in customer and community service."

Store managers were asked to send in innovative stories of how they have excelled in customer or community service. The contest was open to in-store managers employed by food retail, mass merchandise and convenience store operators anywhere in the world. An eight-member panel of judges -- including two from Hallmark Cards, the Award's sponsor --evaluated the entries on originality, creativity and significance of the customer service effort.

The other international winner in the FMI contest was Yehuda Kabessa, Universe Club-Supersol, Tel Hanan, Israel. Kabessa and his team take extra care to personalize the warehouse shopping experience for their customers, including member birthday cakes and telephone calls to new customers and those who seem to be visiting the store less frequently. Every few months Kabessa meets with groups of customers and asks for their suggestions to make the store better. Universe Club also invites long-time members to special events, such as tours of the local winery or to dinner and a show.

In the United States, Ed Moore, K-VA-T Food Stores, Kingsport, Tennessee, has served as co-chairman of the "Santa Train" program for more than 10 years, organizing about 1,000 volunteers annually. During the holiday season, contributors donate more than $150,000 in toys, candy and food, which the Santa Train distributes to families in rural Appalachia. "When people ask me what my hobby is, my answer is always community service because that's all I do," he said.

Kevin Fry, Roche Bros., Norton, Massachusetts, has spearheaded the Parent Involvement Project (PIP) with the Norton School System. The first PIP event brought more than 200 students and their parents into the store to learn about different scientific and mathematical applications. At the Produce Department, for instance, students learned about density by floating different fruits and vegetables in the produce sink. This program has now expanded to other Roche Bros. stores.

Food Marketing Institute conducts programs in research, education, industry relations and public affairs on behalf of its 2,300 member companies -- food retailers and wholesalers -- in the United States and around the world.

For more information, visit www.fmi.org.
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Comment:Food Marketing Institute honors store managers. (Special Advertising Feature: Focus On).
Publication:Latin Trade
Geographic Code:1U0PR
Date:Jun 1, 2003
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