PALM DESERT, Calif. -- A surprise 20th-anniversary tribute to Rick Tilton, president of the General Merchandise Distributors Council, scored the emotional highlight during the annual Health and Beauty Care Marketing Conference here May 20 to 25.
A record-breaking conference attendance of 171 retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers honored Tilton for his leadership and service to the nonfood organization.
Tilton spent 15 years as a sales executive with school supplier Westab, now Mead, prior to becoming GMDC's executive director in 1974. He is credited with building GMDC into a strong entity that represents nonfood as an important profit generator in the supermarket industry.
Saluting Tilton during the business session, Jerry Gilbert, president of Johnson & Johnson, said, "[Tilton's] leadership over the past 20 years has been exceptional. He has attacked his job with great enthusiasm and energy, and has provided continual growth and vision for the association."
During Tilton's tenure, the organization has grown from 57 active members and 244 associate members in 1975 to 123 active members and 560 associate members this year. It also has greatly expanded its conference programs to include training sessions, educational projects and merchandising and marketing programs.
In 1991 the not-for-profit GMDC Educational Foundation was created to conduct research and educational projects in nonfood areas. At this year's conference, the second phase of prescription to over-the-counter drug switches was completed with the release of the final report, "ABCs of Rx to OTC Merchandising." Next year the GMDC celebrates yet another milestone with its 25th-anniversary year.