“Overwaitea is its people,” was a credo that Robert Campbell Kidd stood by since March 9, 1915, when he opened his first grocery store in New Westminster.
Despite some name changes, it was almost as if history repeated itself Thursday – 100 years later.
Save-On-Foods Vernon store manager Jim Tennant’s sentiments matched Kidd’s exactly.
“It’s everybody in the room here that’s making a difference in the community,” said Tennant, holding a giant leader of the year trophy.
Recently returned from Overwaitea’s 100th birthday celebration in New Westminster, Tennant picked up not only the leader of the year honour, but also store of the year.
He returned to his Vernon store Thursday with a surprise greeting from almost his entire 86-member team, friends, family, media and community supporters.
“I share this with everyone that is here,” Tennant told the giant crowd and shoppers.
Among those who came to town to celebrate was Darrell Jones, president of Overwaitea Food Group, who many will recognize from the flyers in this very newspaper with Darrell’s Deals.
“You guys are the best of the best,” Jones told the Vernon team.
His praise echoed for Tennant, a real deal for Darrell.
“It was a very easy decision to make this year,” he said of choosing out of the more-than 140 store managers.
Tennant stood out, not only for his exceptional management of the store or incredible customer service, but for his dedication to the community. Many will recall Tennant spent at least a week on top of the store every year for three years raising donations for the food bank.
“Not everybody wants to spend time on the rooftops just to see that everyone gets a meal,” said Jones.
But whether he’s helping to get local producers onto the shelves, handing out turkeys at Christmas or camping out on the roof of the store, it’s about making a difference.
“It feels pretty darn good,” said the 47-year-old husband and father of two, who loves his community and hopes to stay here.
Tennant has been manager at the Vernon store for three years, but it is his 17th store with the company.
He started out 30 years ago in Nelson, as a cleanup kid in the bakery department, part-time.
Jamie Nelson, senior vice-president of retail operations, remembers the teenage Tennant at one of his first jobs,
“It’s great to see him come around and be the leader he is today.
“Nobody looks after his customers better than Jim Tennant.”
It’s people like Tennant, and his staff in Vernon (who recently marked the store’s own milestone anniversary since opening in October 1994), who have helped Overwaitea mark its major milestone.
“There’s not a lot of companies that can be 100 years old,” said Nelson. “I want to thank the people here today, the team members here today and all of the people of Vernon who helped us get to 100 years.”