2014 GROCER OF THE YEARMadison WI – Mark Skogen, President and CEO of Skogen’s Festival Foods, received a big surprise when he headed to the associate break room for lunch and was greeted by a cake- carrying Wisconsin Grocers Association President Brandon Scholz and Jeff Mc Clure from SuperValu. He was further surprised by a roomful of Festival Foods associates applauding his selection as 2014 WGA Grocer of the Year.
Surprise!Mark is a third generation grocer, who, according to his nomination, “has used his instinct, passion and competitive drive to firmly establish Festival Foods as one of Wisconsin’s leading independent grocers.” The nomination also credits Mark by saying, “the one thing that sets him apart from others in the grocery industry is his true belief in giving back and enriching the lives of those in the communities served by Festival Foods. His commitment to the communities, his associates and customers makes him a deserving recipient of the Grocer of the Year Award.” Growing up in the grocery industry, Mark got his competitive drive and passion for the industry from his father, Dave Skogen, who was WGA’s Grocer of the Year recipient in 2005. He began by helping sort pop bottles at then a handful of Skogen’s IGA stores, to becoming Store Director in various locations to his current role as President and CEO. Under his leadership, Festival has opened 10 new grocery stores and has acquired a banquet/catering facility. The company recently announced plans to open a new 57,000 square foot store in Madison in the summer of 2015 and was recently ranked as the #12 top independent grocery retailer in Supermarket News’ “Top 50 Small Chains & Independents” listing. Mark has implemented numerous programs that provide significant value to approximately 5,000 Festival Foods associates; two of the more noteworthy initiatives include the introduction of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan and offering an Associate Discount Card. He has also implemented programs for tuition reimbursement, health/fitness club reimbursement and smoking cessation. He invests a significant amount of time to train and develop associates at all levels of the company, including conferences, seminars, hands-on training and workshops.
A rousing round of applause for Mark!Being community minded as Mark is, he also sits on several boards, including the Green Bay Packers-Foundation Trustee Committee, Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay, Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and he also was the Chair of the Brown County United Way Campaign in 2011. He has been recognized by many groups and organizations, having received the Outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility Award, among others; he was a finalist for the Ernest & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and was nominated for the Ethics in Business Award. Mark and Festival Foods have been featured in various industry publications, including, Supermarket News, Bay Business Journal, Insight, Marketplace Magazine and many Fox Valley area newspapers.
WGA President Brandon Scholz with Mark SkogenThe WGA is the Wisconsin food industry’s trade association with more than 1,000 members, and the Grocer of the Year Award is its most prestigious award. Presented annually, the award is given to a WGA member who makes significant contributions to the industry and community. Mark will receive his award on October 15th at the WGA Innovation Expo at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.