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07/02/2012

Honoring Two Compassionate Leaders

Pamela G. Bailey
GMA President and CEO

At the Grocery Manufacturers Association's Executive Conference August 25 to 27, it is our honor to recognize two long-standing industry leaders with GMA Hall of Achievement awards. The recipients are Dean Pappas, former chief executive of Clement Pappas and Company Inc., based in Carneys Point, N.J., and Ric Jurgens, retiring chairman and chief executive of Hy-Vee Inc. in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Dean Pappas and Ric Jurgens share the GMA's understanding of the importance of collaboration and team leadership.

While the two have distinct backgrounds, both share the association's understanding of the importance of collaboration and team leadership. And both have demonstrated a desire to make the world a better place through their compassion for their communities, associates and customers.

At the age of 22, Dean Pappas, the son of a Greek immigrant who founded a New Jersey cannery, carried forward his father's dream by turning around the struggling family business. During Pappas's 50 years at the helm of Clement Pappas, the company grew from one full-time employee to more than 600, while its annual sales skyrocketed to $390 million and its net worth went from negative $500,000 to a value of $400 million. Last year, Dean Pappas and the family sold a majority stake to Lassonde Industries, one of Canada's leading fruit juice and beverage manufacturers. Pappas retired at the end of the year after the Lassonde transfer was complete. The company, which is one of the nation's top suppliers of private-label beverages and sauces, continues to operate under the Pappas name, and third-generation Pappas family members still work at the company.

Like Pappas, Ric Jurgens also entered the business at a young age, working part time at Hy-Vee while a student at Iowa State University. He rapidly advanced, becoming president of the chain in 2001 and later its CEO and chairman. Hy-Vee, which operates 235 retail stores in eight Midwestern states, had annual sales of $7.3 billion last year, ranking it among the nation's top 25 supermarket chains.

While Jurgens retired last month, the company's 60,000 employees carry on his mantra: "A helpful smile in every aisle." Customer service is what differentiated Hy-Vee from its competitors from the beginning, and it still does today.

Beside the success Pappas and Jurgens achieved at their own firms, both men extended their leadership through service to industry groups. Pappas provided 27 years of board service to the National Food Processors Association, becoming its chairman in 2004, while also sitting on the boards of GMA, the Juice Products Association and the Food Institute. Meantime, as chairman of the Food Marketing Institute, Jurgens helped spearhead the Facts Up Front nutrition labeling program, while also working to strengthen the nation's food safety laws. In his home state of Iowa, he co-chairs the Healthiest State Initiative.

Please join us in congratulating Dean Pappas and Ric Jurgens on their lifetime achievement awards.