Iowa Grocery Industry Association Honors Five at 24th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner

Iowa grocers gathered to honor grocery and convenience industry greats at the Iowa Grocery Industry Association’s 24th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner on Tuesday Nov. 7, at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.

This year, the Association honored independent grocer Brian Burnam, owner of Keith’s Foods in Bloomfield, Iowa, with the IGIA Retailer of the Year Award. The evening’s highlights also included awarding Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling’s executive chairman of the board and former CEO James R. Tyler with the Lifetime Achievement Award; Craig Clasen, vice president, industry relations for Hy-Vee Inc. with the IGIA Volunteer of the Year Award; Wells Enterprises with the Supplier of the Year Award, accepted by Wells CEO Mike Wells; and Republican member of the Iowa House of Representatives, Ross Paustian, with the Legislative Leadership award. All award recipients took the stage to accept their awards as they were inducted into the Iowa Grocery Industry Association Hall of Fame.

Burnam Named Retailer of the Year

Photo: Steve Grolmus, owner of North Scott Foods and Williamsburg Foods, presents the Retailer of the Year Award to Brian Burnam, owner of Keith's Foods in Bloomfield, IA

Brian Burnam, owner, Keith’s Foods, was selected to receive the industry’s top honor for his contributions to the Bloomfield community and the grocery industry throughout the past 40 years. Burnam is a third-generation grocer, whose love of the grocery industry began at an early age. He started working at his father’s store when he was just 11 years old. Burnam obtained an Associate’s Degree in retail management from AIB in Des Moines, and returned to Bloomfield to put his education to work at the store alongside his father, Keith Burnam. Brian is known for his many contributions to the community of Bloomfield, for keeping pace with technological advances in retail and for his commitment to the environment. He lives in Bloomfield with his wife of 29 years, Gayla Harrison.

“Brian is an outspoken advocate for the grocery industry through his involvement on IGIA’s Government Relations Committee, at Grocers Care Day and through his grassroots legislative efforts,” says IGIA President Michelle Hurd. “It is a privilege to honor him with IGIA’s Retailer of the Year award. His dedication and commitment to the industry and to Iowa make him a great choice.”

Tyler Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo: Mike Ralston, president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), presents James R. Tyler with the Lifetime Achievement award. 

Introduced by Mike Ralston, president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), James R. Tyler of Atlantic Bottling, grew up in Villisca, Iowa and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942 following high school graduation. After being assigned to the 48th Fighter Squadron, First Lt. Tyler served as a P-38 fighter pilot, flying missions out of San Severo, Italy, before being discharged in 1946. Tyler received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in business administration from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa in 1949. He then moved to Atlantic, Iowa, to work for Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co., which had been founded in 1905 by his grandfather, Frank P. “Perk” Tyler as an ice cream and ice business and was being run by his father, Harry. Tyler married Dorothy Hendrickson in 1947, and the couple settled into the community of Atlantic and began raising a family that would grow to include five children: Amy, Jayne, Lou Ann, Kirk and Sue; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

By 1958, Tyler was managing the company. As the years passed, the business continued to prosper, and in 1975, he purchased the Des Moines franchise and invited his son, Kirk, to join the company.

Jim has devoted much of his life to community service, serving in leadership positions on numerous boards, including the Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Manufacturers Association and the Iowa Board of Regents to name a few.

Today, Jim maintains a leadership role as executive chairman of the board for the company and helped to engineer a business venture in September 2016 that more than doubled the company’s territory. Over night, the company grew from 223 employees to more than 700.

Wells Enterprises Named Supplier of the Year

Photo: Wells Enterprises CEO Mike Wells accepts the IGIA Supplier of the Year Award from Jeff Stearns of Fareway.

Wells Enterprises’ CEO Mike Wells accepted the Supplier of the Year award on behalf of the family-owned business. The company’s commitment to Iowa and the town of Le Mars, where it originated and still operates today, mirrors its devotion to quality and integrity, according to Wells. This dedication has helped the company forge lasting business relationships that contribute to its success.

What began in 1913 as a small milk company, with the initial investment of $250, has grown to become the second largest producer of ice cream in the nation. Today, Wells is the number one supplier to the number one customer in every industry it serves. Wells supplies Iowa-based companies Hy-Vee, Fareway, Kum & Go, Casey’s and a large number of independent grocers, as well as companies based outside the state. As Wells’ business has grown so has its support of the Iowa grocery industry. Wells also bears the distinction of being the first company in the history of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association to receive the IGIA Supplier of the Year Award more than once, having previously earned the honor in 1987.

Wells was selected for a second time for a wide range of outstanding achievements including its commitment to the industry and the state of Iowa. Furthermore, Wells employees have consistently held leadership roles in the community, on the IGIA board, on volunteer committees and on the Iowa Grocers Education Foundation Board of Trustees.

Clasen Honored with Volunteer of the Year Award

Photo: Hy-Vee's Craig Clasen (left) accepts the Volunteer of the Year award from Karl Kruse of Hy-Vee.

IGIA Chairman of the Board Karl Kruse of Hy-Vee presented Craig Clasen, vice president, industry relations for Hy-Vee Inc., with the IGIA Volunteer of the Year Award. Clasen was nominated for his work on the IGIA Convention Auction Committee and for his commitment to volunteering throughout his lifetime. With Clasen’s help, the IGIA raised $35,350 to provide college scholarships to youth with ties to the grocery industry. In addition to his work with the IGIA, Clasen has made significant contributions to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, serving on that organization’s board, and as the corporate liaison for a number of fundraising events. He also worked with the Des Moines-area Hy-Vee stores; Variety The Children’s Charity; and Big Brothers, Big Sisters to raise funds to purchase bicycles and helmets for area children from low-income families.

Clasen is known for his altruistic nature, frequently stopping to help stray animals, stranded motorists and anyone who needs a hand.

Craig and his wife Lisa have three children: Jamee, Chase and Jordan along with their three grandchildren, Leila, Cruz and Sloan.

IGIA Bestows Legislative Leader Award Upon Rep. Ross Paustian

Photo: Noreen Otto, Hy-Vee, presents Rep. Ross Paustian with the Legislative Leadership Award.

Iowa Representative Ross Paustian was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. After attending South Dakota State University, Ross returned to the farm and has become a leader for Iowa agriculture at the State Capitol. A fifth-generation crop and livestock farmer, Representative Paustian has served as the president of both the Scott County Farm Bureau and the Scott County Pork Producers.

In the Iowa House, Representative Paustian chairs the Environmental Protection Committee and is the vice chair of the Agriculture Committee. Paustian also sits on the Judiciary committee and is a member of the subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Paustian was nominated for tonight’s IGIA Legislative Leader Award for his efforts as Chair of the House Environmental Protection Committee. In this role, he introduced the Sustainability Bill, which is designed to create a more robust recycling program for the State of Iowa. The IGIA and its members are privileged to honor Rep. Paustain for standing behind the proposed legislation that will begin the 2018 legislative session in the House Ways & Means Committee.

This legisation not only addresses bottles and cans, but provides for anti-litter efforts in addition to bringing curbside recycling or best practices to all Iowa communities, and If passed, will create a better recycling future for our state.

Paustian was accompanied by his wife, Carol. They have two grown children, Jennifer and Tom.

Past Retailers of the Year photo caption: Past Retailers of the Year, front row, left to right: Bob Cramer and Bill Beckwith, Fareway; and Doug Fallgatter, Fallgatter’s Market. Back row, left to right: Reynolds Cramer and Fred Greiner, Fareway; Tom Watson and Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee; Denny Dietrich, Gary’s Foods; and Scott Havens, formerly of Scott’s Foods.

Past Lifetime Achievement Award Winners photo caption: Past Lifetime Achievement Award Winners, Bob Cramer and Rich Stearns, Fareway.