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    Leaders in Convenience Distribution Honored

    Multiple awards bestowed at Convenience Distribution Business Exchange.

    By Kathleen Furore

    CHICAGO — The Hall of Fame and Dean of the Industry awards are both coveted honors for members of the Convenience Distribution Association (CDA), formerly known as AWMA. The 2015 awards were presented Sept. 9 during the opening general session of the CDA’s Business Exchange.

    Hall of Fame inductee Pat Carrico, president and CEO of Richmond-Master Distributors in South Bend, Ind., was recognized for 50 years of service, including a term as CDA chairman in 2004.

    "Pat is one of the best listeners I've ever met," Steve Shing, retired from G.S.C. Enterprises and the current vice president of member engagement at CDA, said in presenting the award. He noted the qualities that have made Carrico successful in business "are rooted in deeply held values that guide his life: honesty, kindness, generosity, patience, loyalty and a strong work ethic."

    Upon accepting the award, Carrico said: "I believe that involvement in CDA has been vital to our company. Without CDA, our company wouldn't be anywhere close to where it is today."

    This year’s recipient of the Dean of the Industry Award was Bob Sears, Northeast section sales director for Altria Group Distribution Co. Sears is also a member of the supplier wing of the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame.

    “He is a consummate professional and an incredible statesman representing the industry,” Keith Canning, managing partner of Pine State Trading Co. in Gardiner, Maine, said upon presenting the award to Sears. ”He genuinely cares about others and always looks out for all the constituents in the supply chain. … You’d want him in your foxhole. You can trust he's got your back."

    Sears spoke of the importance of listening during his acceptance speech. "We try hard to listen. I hope that I've advanced that. It's important that we do so," he said, adding that the “cherished relationships” he’s built have “helped to move the industry and our collective interests forward."


    In one of two surprise awards during the event, Debbie Robins, president of Century Distributors in Rockville, Md., was honored by the association with a Distinguished Leadership Award for her role in creating new programs designed to benefit women in the convenience distribution industry.

    "Debbie single-handedly spearheaded CDA's Women's Leadership Initiative," which began with a Women's Leadership Breakfast and has since led to a series of women's leadership webinars that are available on the association’s IdeaXchange portal, where there is also now a Women's Leadership community, according to CDA Chairman Rob Sincavich.

    It is "high time to do more to embrace women in this industry,” CDA President and CEO Scott Ramminger added.

    Robins credited her late father for believing in her. "He truly was a leader and drove me to be what I am today," she said.

    In the second surprise award, Joan Fay, associate publisher of the CDA’s Convenience Distribution magazine and vice president of administration, was honored for 20 years of service. She received a photo montage of Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh in recognition of her love of horses.

    "I think all the staff would agree Joan is the most organized, detail-oriented person we know,” said Ramminger, who called Fay the CDA’s “resident historian."

    "Thank you very much. It's a pleasure and a privilege,” Fay said.

    The Convenience Distribution Association is the trade organization working on behalf of convenience products distributors in the United States. Its distributor members represent more than $92 billion in U.S convenience product sales, serving a wide variety of small retail formats. Associate members include leading convenience product manufacturers, brokers, retailers, suppliers and others allied to the industry.

    By Kathleen Furore
    • About Kathleen Furore

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