LONDON, Ky. -- The Kentucky Grocers and Convenience Store Association has named George W. Griffin, chairman emeritus of Laurel Grocery Co., as the first inductee into the Kentucky Grocers Hall of Fame.
In the ceremony, which took place here earlier this month, Griffin attributed the company's success to the wholesaler's employees. Griffin had been with Laurel, based here, since 1950 and had been president for 34 years before retiring in 1997.
"Working side by side with George Griffin over the past 38 years, he has taught me the ways to succeed in business, using honesty and wisdom -- the honesty to do everything you say you will do, and the wisdom to not say more than you can do," said Bruce Chestnut, chief executive officer of Laurel, in a speech at the ceremony.
Griffin's work with Laurel Grocers proved influential on other operators.
"As a grocer, I admire your accomplishments and success," wrote Ed Crenshaw, president of Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., in correspondence to Griffin. "Like so many in our business, I am appreciative and grateful for all you have done for our industry."
Tom Zaucha, president, National Grocers Association, Arlington, Va., also sent a congratulatory letter to Griffin. Both expressions of appreciation were read aloud during the ceremony by Winston Griffin, son of the chairman emeritus and a third-generation employee of the company.
Among the guests was Dr. Thomas Haggai, CEO and chairman of IGA International, who said that due to Griffin's character, "Laurel Grocery's integrity and commitment to the family business has never been questioned."
The younger Griffin, whom the Kentucky Grocers Hall of Fame Committee had selected to introduce the inductee and to present the award, also regaled the attendees with stories of growing up around the Laurel Grocery Co.'s warehouse with his siblings. The Griffin children were such an integral part of the company from the beginning that they, at times, relied on employees for rides home just in time for dinner, noted Winston Griffin.
George Griffin then received a Kentucky Hall of Fame trophy and a large autographed portrait of all the attendees. The Kentucky Grocers and Convenience Store Association will dedicate a space in its office in the honor of Griffin and future inductees, which will include the likes of Ruel and Suel Houchens of Houchens Industries this December.
Founded in 1941, the Kentucky Grocers and Convenience Store Association represents about 550 member companies operating 1,700 business locations.