Ten rising stars of the grocery trade were recognized Monday night with Canadian Grocer’s Generation Next Award.
The winners were awarded during the Golden Pencil ceremony at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The Golden Pencil Awards, which are handed out for lifetime service to the Canadian grocery industry is a partner with Canadian Grocer on the Generation Next Awards.
The award, now in its fifth year, goes to suppliers and retailers under 40 who demonstrate leadership, a commitment to working in grocery and involvement in the industry or their community.
Six of the eight Generation Next award winners work on the retail side of the business and two are from the supplier side.
Marie Chevrier is the CEO of Sampler. Since its launch in 2013, Sampler has worked with more than 80 CPG companies to help get products into new consumers’ hands and gather consumer data. The tool is a way to increase ROI on product sampling strategies—music to any shopper marketer’s ears.
Chevrier has also made a mark in Toronto’s startup community. She was the winner of Google’s Startup Weekend Next, a program that supports emerging entrepreneurs.
Éric Côté, vice-president of customer experience for Metro in Quebec, got his start in the grocery business at Metro at the ripe age of 13 and has steadily worked his way up in the company.
Along the way he’s been a Metro franchisee, and has also held director roles on both the conventional and discount side of the business. Today, he is the company’s youngest vice-president.
In his current role, Eric is focused on enhancing the customer experience in Metro stores.
Ryan Gilling is the store manager at the Metro Humber Bay Park store in west Toronto.
Before being tapped to lead that location earlier this year, Ryan worked his way up the ranks at Metro locations in Brampton and downtown Toronto.
Gilling has a natural talent for connecting with customers and bringing forward concepts that keep the shoppers in his urban store happy with fresh products and prepared meals.
Richa Gupta is the founder of Good Food For Good.
Part food company, part social enterprise, Good Food For Good is a different kind of business. Not only does it make a line of vegan, preservative-free Indian and Mexican cooking sauces, but it also donates a meal to a hungry child in India with every product purchased.
Gupta launched the company two years ago, and her products are now carried in three dozen stores across Ontario, including Whole Foods and Loblaws.
Justin McGregor, the store manager at Save-On-Foods in Sidney, B.C., is the type of manager whose efforts show he really knows his community and customers.
Whether it’s bringing a line of locally-made sushi into the store or getting involved in a nearby night market to help promote local vendors, McGregor’s ideas help both his store’s bottom line and his community.
When he was only 25 a couple of years ago, McGregor became one of the youngest store managers in Overwaitea’s history.
Zack Silverman is the co-founder of Brutus Beverages, the maker of Walter All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix.
He started his career as a corporate attorney in New York, but decide he wanted to move into the beverage industry.
In less than two years, Brutus Beverages has sold more than 1.5 million Caesars and the mix has won half a dozen gold medals at international spirit competitions—not to mention the 2015 SIAL Innovation Award. Silverman credits the negotiation and communication skills he learned as an attorney with helping to launch a new premium Caesar mix in Canada.
Kerry Waldo is the store manager at the Freson Bros. Fresh Market in Stony Plain, Alta.
He’s the type of leader that doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeve to do the same things he asks of his employees, whether that bee corralling carts or handing out ice cream to kids in the store.
He’s in charge of 110 staff and builds strong teams not only by leading by example, but also helping his staff further their own careers. Under Waldo’s leadership, his store received CFIG’s Grocer of the Year award in 2014.
Corbin Bourree is the managing director for Edmonton of Spud.ca, the online grocery service. He has a hand in all of Spud’s operations, from driving packed orders to calling customers to make sure they’re happy.
Bourse was instrumental in opening Spud’s Edmonton warehouse distribution centre last year, and is committed to forging bonds and promoting local farmers and suppliers. He was also key in launching a Spud program that delivers healthy produce to office workers.
Matt Lurie is the president of Organic Garage. Since opening the first Organic Garage in Oakville in 2006, Lurie has kept his vision of making healthy food available to consumers at accessible prices.
He is set to open his third store next year in Toronto, keeping his focus on selling organic and natural products for less, using strategies like stocking manufacturers’ clearance items.
Lurie is a fourth-generation grocer, and like many grocers, is modest about his achievements, giving his team and family much of the credit for making his chain what it is today.
Michael Will, the retail division manager at Otter Co-op in Aldergrove, B.C., is another winner that started low on the totem pole at his company—pumping gas part-time back in 2000.
Since 2014, Will has overseen all food operations, the gas bar and convenience stores for Otter Co-op, leading a team of 200 employees. He’s also helped open five new stores in the past two years.