President & CEO, AFPD-The Voice of Independent Retailers, West Bloomfield, MI
November 1, 2013
What is your role at AFPD-The Voice of Independent Retailers?
AA: I oversee all our policies, staff, legislation and community outreach activities, as well as anything else our members across the states of Michigan and Ohio need. We’ve been around since 1910 and have over 3000 members in Michigan, including grocers, convenience stores, distributors and some manufacturers. My role is to execute the game plan of our 35 member board of directors.
How does AFPD work toward the goals of the Good Food Charter?
AA: It’s a hand and glove relationship; we represent independent grocers and what separates us from the big chains is that we’re always thinking local. Michigan having the second greatest crop diversity in the country is a perfect fit from the independent retailers’ side. We always love to push fresh fruits and vegetables and other perishables, like meats. Because they can source locally, local grocers are a lot more competitive in pricing for perishables.
What do you find most exciting or inspiring about what you’re doing?
AA: The people are amazing. Small business owners have a wonderful entrepreneurial spirit and each one has their own story of how their business evolved over time. It’s also good to be able to help people with whatever they need and turn their struggle into a win. I also love being on the cutting edge of new ideas and programs. For example, three of our grocery stores in the Detroit area are the first in the country to be part of the Double Up Food Bucks program.
What opportunities do you see for moving toward the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter?
AA: We want to continue to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables across the state and to build on what we’ve already done, like change the distribution of SNAP benefits. We also want to build better partnerships with distributors who specialize in Michigan products and continue to emphasize buy local initiatives. By buying local, we can keep dollars and jobs here in state.
What is one thing you’ve learned through your experience that you’d like to share with others?
AA: Listen, learn, game plan and execute. I use this philosophy in my own life and at AFPD. We try to listen to the needs, research about the issue, put a game plan together with other partners and then execute the game plan. The most important part is listen, which is why it’s first. It’s always important to hear the perspective of other groups. Many times truly listening to others presents an opportunity to turn negative into a positive.