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Ben E. Keith Foods, AGAR Supply Company and Sysco

CHICAGO, Ill. (Dec. 4, 2009 - IFMA Press Release)—The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) November 10, 2009, honored a number of industry leaders in the presentation of IFMA's third annual Distributor Awards during the IFMA/IFDA Presidents Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The awards acknowledge distributor leadership and overall excellence within the foodservice industry. They also give IFMA an opportunity to share its great appreciation for the integral role distributors play in this industry. Three awards were presented by IFMA’s COO Larry Oberkfell as well as key executives from award sponsors ConAgra Foods/Lamb Weston and Splenda/Sun Crystals.

Ben E. Keith Foods was honored with the IFMA Excellence in Distribution Award.
This award recognizes a corporate or independent distribution organization that has demonstrated excellence in the categories of management and leadership, customer relations, supplier relations and industry/community contributions. Mike Roach, President of Ben E. Keith accepted the award.

Ben E. Keith is a two billion dollar company serving the south central United States from six high-tech distribution centers. Over the past 15 years, they have enjoyed remarkable growth, doubling their sales every five years. The “Fresh from Keith’s” slogan reflects the company’s fresh ideas, fresh training methods and innovative approaches to working relationships with
customers and suppliers.

In order to be on technology’s leading edge, Ben E. Keith has invested heavily, employing business technology to analyze and drill down in order to understand (and help customers to understand) more about the business and consumer demographics. They have shared this expertise to help move the industry toward data standardization.

AGAR Supply Company, Inc. was named the winner of the IFMA Distributor Sales & Marketing Performance Award.

This award recognizes a single independent distributor or an individual operating company of a distributor with multiple locations that has demonstrated successful planning and execution of creative sales and marketing. AGAR's President & CEO Karen Bressler accepted the award on behalf of the company. Now in its third generation of family ownership, AGAR has more than tripled its sales over the past 10 years. Today, the company is the nation’s 13th-largest broad line distributor. A $650 million company, AGAR delivers branded products with highly competitive prices. Leveraging their reputation as center-of-the-plate specialists, they help customers find new solutions, enhance profitability and achieve success. Among its forward thinking programs, AGAR launched a new green solution called Nautifish and has aggressively reinvested in the business. In it for the long haul, AGAR inspires its sales force to build relationships and grow with customers.

Larry Pulliam, executive vice president of foodservice operations, Sysco Corporation, was presented with the IFMA Distinguished Industry Achievement Award.

This award hich recognizes an individual who has brought about positive change in the foodservice distribution community and has been a pioneer in the areas of management, marketing and operations. Pulliam joined the global leader Sysco in 1987. Last year, the company achieved record sales of more than $37 billion, serving over 400,000 customers from more than 170 locations across North America. Gaining experience in virtually every part of Sysco’s operations, Pulliam has worn plenty of hats and has helped lead the company in new directions including: introducing Sysco to the information age; sending quality assurance teams out to factories and into the fields to ensure the quality of Sysco products; and leading the company’s drive to develop sustainable agriculture.

The awards were selected by a jury headed by Caroline Perkins, CEO of Foodservice Insights and former editor-in-chief of ID magazine. The jury is made up of the following industry leaders:

Dan Cassidy, President and CEO of KeyImpact Sales & Systems;
Bill Hale, President of The Hale Group, Ltd.;
Ellen Koteff, Editor of Nation’s Restaurant News;
Ron Paul, President of Technomic, Inc.;
Alan Plassche, BP Partners and former CEO of UniPro Foodservice; and
Jim Sullivan, CEO of Sullivision, Inc.

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