The Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association announced their prestigious annual awards at the Maine Food Means Business 2014 Summit held at the Hilton Garden Inn Freeport Downtown.
AUGUSTA, MAINE The Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association announced their prestigious annual awards at the Maine Food Means Business 2014 Summit held at the Hilton Garden Inn Freeport Downtown. Kathy and Ed Bell, Bell’s IGA in Calais and Orono are the 2014 Grocer of the Year, Joan and Mike Anderson, Winterport Winery, Penobscot Brewery and Pairings are the 2014 Producer of the Year, and Michael Bozzuto, Bozzuto’s Inc is the 2014 Wholesaler of the Year. Awarded annually, these prestigious honors are given to members who meet the highest standards of excellence. These include contributions to the Association, community service, business excellence in providing a positive workplace, increased sales, contributions to the food industry through legislative or educational activities, and a commitment to furthering opportunities for other Maine businesses.
2014 Grocer of the Year
In 1976, at the ages of 21 and 19, Ed & Kathy Bell moved from Patten to Calais and took over the Calais IGA Foodliner. The original store, located on Washington St., was about 8,000 square feet. Having to pick potatoes as kids, the young couple both believed that you must work hard for what you have. Ed’s father, Leighton “Bud” Bell, operated a small grocery store in Caribou before relocating to Patten. Needless to say, Ed began his career in the grocery industry at a very young age. Although it was tough for the young couple to move to a new city, their strong work ethic, frugal philosophies, and new marketing concepts allowed them to achieve success. Through continuous savings passed on to the customers, Ed & Kathy’s ability to understand the needs of the community have allowed them to triumph in the grocery industry.
In 1999, the Bell’s took a huge leap of faith and opened their second location in Orono. At the time, this store was much larger than the Calais location, with approximately 21,000 square feet. Bob Craft and David Pike, two key employees from the Calais store, relocated to this location and have continued to grow the business for the last 16 years.
In 2006, the Bell’s expanded again relocating to Main St. in Calais, increasing from 8,000 to 20,000 square feet. Ed & Kathy had faith that if they expanded to a larger store, they could significantly increase their business. The first six years proved this, drawing customers from all over Washington County and New Brunswick. Despite the new competition from the Super Wal-Mart, 2013 was the best year to date. With their hands-on approach and philosophy of providing value to the community, the Bell’s are certain the future of their business is bright. Ed & Kathy strongly believe that in all economic times, either good or bad, people are looking for value. It is the one word that the Bell’s want you to remember when thinking of their stores. They currently employ 140 people at the Calais and Orono locations.
2014 Producer of the Year
The Winterport Winery, owned by Michael and Joan Anderson, opened its doors in the fall of 2001, but it really had its beginning in the Christmas gift of a home winemaking kit some 30 years earlier. What was a hobby then, has now become a full time business – what used to be stored in the family basement, and now occupies the 3200 sq. ft. winery and 1100 sq. ft. tasting room.
They have predominantly focused their production on the uniqueness of fruit wines, using as much of local Maine product as possible and enjoying showcasing the best in Maine. Their tasting room, located in downtown Winterport on the Penobscot River, is a great place to sample some of the award-winning wines. The wines also are available in a wide range of shops and stores throughout the state.
In 2005, renovations were done to their building to include an adjoining expansion into a complementing food operation called Pairings, which offers monthly paired dinners, cooking classes and catered events. From these ventures, they have also branched into brewing in 2009 and have been producing handcrafted, small batch beers in their 7-barrel system, bottling and kegging under the label of Penobscot Bay Brewery.
2014 Wholesaler of the Year
Bozzuto’s Inc. is a leading, total service, wholesale distributor of groceries and perishable food products to over 1,000 retailer supermarkets in New England, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Established in 1945, the company is headed by Chairman, President and CEO, Michael A. Bozzuto.
Based in Cheshire, Connecticut, Bozzuto’s is a longtime active supporter of Special Olympics. Among its many professional awards, Bozzuto’s has won the IGA International President’s Cup seven times. This prestigious award is the highest honor that an international IGA organization can receive, and identifies Bozzuto’s as a leader among IGA distribution.
The Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association is a statewide business trade association representing main street businesses; independently owned and operated grocery stores, supermarkets, wholesalers and distributors, food and beverage producers and processors and associated service companies.