Nice N Easy Recognizes Top Performers

“We are very proud of each and every one of our employees and vendors who are actively contributing to the success of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes every day,” says Nice N Easy CEO.

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Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes’ vendor partners, franchise owners, operators, management and staff gathered at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool, N.Y., for their annual awards banquet on March 23, 2011.

John MacDougall, CEO and president of Nice N Easy, opened the evening with a speech that touched on the struggles they face operating a business in Upstate New York and how proud he is of the company’s people being able to overcome adversity time and time again.  He thanked the vendors for their support and commitment to making Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes a great company.

Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes’ commitment to its employees and vendor community was echoed throughout the evening as the agenda was dedicated to honoring its people as many were awarded for notable achievements.

Highlights of the evening included: a surprise visit by Superman, the announcement of the prestigious, ‘Trade Partner of the Year, the always heartfelt selection of the ‘Sharon Jordan Memorial, True Spirit Award’; all culminating to the bestowing of, ‘Manager of the Year’.  This was truly a first class event for a very deserving crowd; all the way from the Filet Mignon and shrimp to the cheesecake and cocktails following many warm congratulations.

“We are very proud of each and every one of our employees and vendors who are actively contributing to the success of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes every day and these are some of the best,”  MacDougall said.

Awards went to the following employees:

Salad Contest:  Employees were invited to submit innovative salad recipes for consideration.  In all, 34 employees entered the contest five of those contestants were selected by a committee at the corporate office.   Those five were invited to the trade show where they sampled their salad and Nice N Easy Employees voted on their favorite.   The winner, Brenda Foote, created an “Oriental Spinach Salad” recipe; a vegan option that earned top honors and will be featured at Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes in 2011.

Superman Award: Tim Mericle, manager of the Taunton location, went above and beyond to assist a customer in distress who ran out of gas at a five way intersection.  Mericle quickly assembled a few customers, leapt over a snow bank and pushed her car to the gas pumps.

Trade Partner of the Year is awarded to the vendor who has been a leader in sales and innovation; a partner who contributed to category growth and active supporter of Nice N Easy events and company philosophy.   It was awarded in 2010 to the employees of Hansen Beverages, Monster Energy Drink.  “Monster has continued to show double digit growth in a category that was extremely hot for several years and has cooled off lately.” said Matt Paduano, vice president of category management.  Monster keeps the category fresh with new packaging and products such as: Nitrous and Import as well as their resealable cans.  They drive sales through innovation; introducing new offerings and product spin-offs including:  Monster Java, energy shots, and the new super-concentrated three-ounce bottle.  Monster markets to the young generation, which is a very profitable consumer with their sponsorship of NASCAR, Winter X Games and other extreme sports.  They have also partnered with Nice N Easy over the years on various special events that we are involved in.

The Total Customer Experience is a customer retention program that measures how well our stores conduct customer transactions at each checkout and on the sub make line.  The program also measures our image as it pertains to cleanliness and making sure we are in stock and fresh products. The stores are measured on these criteria once per month in addition to four extensive quarterly audits.

• 3rd Place – Barneveld – managed by Kelly Haver

• Tied 1st place – Star Lake – managed by Tonya Lutz Food Service Manager Doreen Salcido

• Tied 1st place – Tupper Lake – Managed by Carlos Gonzalez

Community Involvement of the Year:  Henry Clay Blvd, Clay is donating $1,000 to the Humane Society of CNY on behalf of the store.  The employees were actively involved in the community throughout 2010.

Store of the Year: Tupper Lake, managed by Carlos Gonzalez, assistant manager Shannon Bradley and  owned and operate by Hyde Fuel.  “Carlos’s store performed at an unbelievable level in many categories that we look at with regards to choosing the store of the year,” said John Zbytniewski, director of franchise operations. “Receiving 7, 100% scores on the mystery Shop program for the year helped propel them into tie for first place in our Total Customer Experience contest.  I’m a firm believer that the store’s presentation and its phenomenal customer service are the reasons for having the tremendous sales increase in a community that is desperately seeking any kind of employment.  The store finished in the top 10 of all NNE locations with regards to percent of sales increase over the previous year.”

Foodservice Coordinator of the Year:  Shelly Rotach, Utica Street, Clinton.“Shelly is always eager to improve the operation.  The overall Foodservice program performs exactly as directed with regards to all guidelines put forth by Nice N Easy,” said Glenn White, director of foodservice.

Assistant Manager of the Year:  Jennifer Hapeman, Ilion.  Rick Miller, director of operations for Clifford Fuel describes Hapeman as a being strong, dedicated hard worker.  “Jennifer is a very serious individual and has had numerous opportunities to run the store for extended periods of time while the Manager Sally was out of work. She took ownership of the store and exceeded everybody’s expectations,” Miller said.

Sharon Jordan True Spirit Award Award:  Each year the winner is personally selected by MacDougall as the employee who exemplifies the culture and the spirit of Nice N Easy: “Be Nice, Sell Stuff, Have Fun and Be the Best.”  This year that person is Lenny Farrar, a 15.5 year employee and manager of the Canastota location.

Franchisees of the year:  Herzig Inc. and Haver & Sons Inc. The Franchise of the Year award for 2010 was presented to two franchise groups: the Havers and the Herzigs.  This award recognizes these groups for their outstanding image, cooperation and upstanding representation of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes in the franchise community.

Kelly Haver, manager of the Barneveld location finished third in the Total Customer Experience contest, which was only half a point from the tie for first place.  Their Poland location underwent a complete remodel with new fixtures and a new graphics package along with adding refrigerated open cases for an improved presentation and increased offering of produce, meat and dairy products.   A new expanded foodservice area brought new excitement and increased profits to the store.  Foodservice sales immediately jumped 25% and brought in a resounding 65% increase in margin dollars.  These two stores certainly have made a positive impact and they contribute to Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes’ image.

Christine Herzig and Dave Daily accepted this year’s award for the Herzig group.  Their two stores have always provided the communities of Croghan and Harrisville with the best of customer service and image.  In 2010 they added new locations in Lowville.  This store is packed with everything they could possibly fit without tearing it down and starting over.  The foodservice area sets this store apart from any other in the Lowville community.  “Cooperation and a firm commitment to the Nice N Easy franchise standards have been shown by these two groups and we are very proud of them,” said Zbytniewski.

Foodservice Manager of the Year:  Rachael Short, foodservice director of the Canastota, N.Y., location. Short is one of the most goal results orientated foodservice managers in the company.  She assists in training at other operations as well as provides help with many corporate initiatives. “Her performance is always at or near the top of the list.  She has impressive Report Card results, TCE results and inspection results,” White said.

Manager of the Year: Darrin Ryan, manager of the Fayetteville location has been with Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes for nearly seven years and his growth through the ranks is a perfect example of what Nice N Easy believes in.  Ryan started out as an hourly sales associate, was quickly promoted to foodservice coordinator, assistant manager, manager of a small store and recently took over as manager of the brand new store in Fayetteville.  When handed difficult situations Ryan has found creative and effective ways to combat them.  The insight that he and his staff at Kirkville Road employed to focus on growing their business in the face of really tough economic times was extraordinary and the fact that they continued to work on and improve their performance even when sales trends began to turn for the better is what helped him to earn the Manager of the Year honor.  Ryan realizes that it’s not being No. 1 in certain area of the business; it’s being really good and consistent in the overall operation that counts.


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