ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Grocers Association here said last week it has named Peter Larkin to succeed Thomas K. Zaucha as president and chief executive officer of the association.
Larkin has been running his own Sacramento, Calif.-based consulting firm since retiring in 2008 as president and CEO of the California Grocers Association after 11 years in that position. He previously was vice president, state government relations and environmental affairs, for Food Marketing Institute after working for Kroger Co., Cincinnati; the Tobacco Institute, where he was state director of the Wisconsin-Minnesota office; and Phillip Morris USA.
Zaucha told SN Larkin's experience in the industry, with associations and in government relations makes him well qualified for the NGA post.
Larkin, 56, is NGA's second selection to succeed Zaucha. In December, the association chose Mike Jackson, who had been president and chief operating officer of Supervalu, Minneapolis, as its new president and CEO. However, Jackson changed his mind about taking the post “for personal reasons” in mid-January, and NGA's search committee started a new search.
Larkin told SN he had not applied for the NGA position the first time around because of a timing issue. But he was interested in the job, he said, “because of the powerful organization Tom Zaucha and his staff have built.”
“I look forward to the opportunity to lead that organization into the future,” he said, noting that he plans to visit with Zaucha and the NGA staff this week. His official start date has not been determined.
Rich Niemann Jr., chairman of the search committee and president and CEO of Niemann Foods, Quincy, Ill., told SN that, although Larkin had not been a candidate to succeed Zaucha during the first selection process, “his name did surface in some discussions.”
Each of the four candidates in this round was asked to submit a white paper describing his vision for NGA, and the committee interviewed all four. The committee made a unanimous decision to submit Larkin's name to NGA's board, which also voted unanimously to choose Larkin.
“Peter has a unique set of credentials that we thought make him a good match for the job,” Niemann said, “including executive experience at FMI, the advantages of heading the California Grocers Association, and a wealth of experience living and working on the Washington, D.C., scene.”
“He's also a good communicator, he's very sincere, and he understands the mission of NGA. He's very articulate in his vision for the future and for interaction with the membership, and we all felt he would be good for the long-term potential of the organization.”
Chris Coborn, NGA chairman and president and CEO of Coborn's, Minneapolis, said, “Larkin possesses the industry knowledge, professional association experience, leadership skills and passion to lead NGA to the next level of excellence.”