The Grocery Manufacturers Association created the Hall of Achievement awards in 1984 to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the food, beverage and consumer products industries.
In most of their 24-year history, the awards honored one person annually. This year, in recognition of GMA's centennial anniversary and its merger with the Food Products Association, there are four honorees: Robert J. Lawless, who retired as chief executive officer of McCormick & Co., at the end of last year, but still serves as its chairman; Richard Lenny, who retired as chairman, president and CEO of the Hershey Co. at the end of last year; J. Douglas Quick, who is retiring as CEO of Lakeside Foods on June 30, but will remain chairman; and Stephen W. Sanger, former CEO and chairman of General Mills.
“These four people are stalwarts within the food, beverage and CPG industries in terms of leadership of their own companies and also in various trade associations,” said GMA spokesman Sean McBride. “Each is a shining example of dedicated leadership with our industry.”
The awards historically have been given out at GMA's annual executive conference at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. As reported, GMA canceled this year's conference, which had been scheduled for June 6-9, due to a labor dispute at the resort. GMA plans to present the achievement awards at another event this year.
When asked by SN about his proudest moments at McCormick, Lawless said he is honored to have led the company during its transformation from being a pepper and ingredients company into a large flavorings business with a wide product offering.
“We feel confident that when a consumer looks at McCormick today, whether in retail or on our website, they see McCormick as a company that can provide good quality and flavor for any product they desire to cook,” he said. “We think we're the secret flavoring that makes good meals taste better.”
Meanwhile, Lenny said he is proud to have served as GMA board chairman during two major changes at the association: GMA's merger with the Food Products Association, and Cal Dooley's succession of C. Manly Molpus as president and CEO.
Lenny said he is humbled to be recognized by an association that has done so much for the packaged goods industry.
“The GMA puts forth thoughtful and important industry issues,” Lenny told SN. “It never operates for just one faction; it represents large, small, public and private companies.”
Quick has served as president and CEO of Lakeside, a food processor that produces canned and frozen vegetables and other products, since 1986. Along with managing Lakeside, he's served state and regional food-processing industry associations, including the Wisconsin Food Processors Association, the Midwest Food Processors Association and the American Frozen Food Institute.
He also served in numerous committee and board leadership positions as the National Canners Association grew and evolved into the National Food Processors Association and then the Food Products Association.
Quick played a major role in FPA's 2007 merger with GMA — a union that Quick said improved the clout and efficiencies of both organizations.
“The merger combined the strength of the GMA in legislative and industry affairs with the strength of the FPA in science and regulatory issues,” Quick told SN. “In doing so, it put together a stronger voice for the industry than we had before.”
Sanger was unavailable for comment.