By Tim Leeds
The International Grocers' Alliance has selected Gary and Leo's IGA in Havre as one of 11 International Retailers of the Year.
"It's not something that I've done myself, it's what our team at the store has done and I just have the good fortune to be the guy who gets to go and get the award," Gary Leland said about winning.
Leland and Leo Job, his partner, will be in Chicago this weekend at the Food Marketing Institute for IGA's 75th anniversary, where the awards will be given out Sunday, May 6.
Leland said the alliance holds an annual banquet, but it's a little bit bigger this year for the 75th anniversary.
Leland said the credit for getting the award has to go the people working in the store.
"I would say mostly the good fortune we get in being able to hire and retain a lot of really good people in the store," he said. "Because of their efforts and high standards we've developed a good reputation."
This is Gary and Leo's 15th anniversary in Havre. The store works with the community in a variety of areas, letting groups use their parking lots for car washes and other fund raisers, hosting activities in the store and more. The coupon donation program, where groups cut at tape coupons to merchandise and have the choice of using the coupon or donating its value to the group, has helped many clubs and organization raise large amounts of money over the years.
Tracy Job, Leo Job's son and manager of the store, said the store supports kids in the community and any organizations involving kids. Leland said the nature of the community makes it easy to get involved.
"We've been fortunate to be part of the community thats so hometown oriented," he said. "It's a great place for families to raise their kids, a great place for the people that live here."
The Havre store one of the 11 featured in the May 2001 edition of IGA's "Grocergram." The five-page article, with extensive photos of the Havre store, details the history and operation of the Havre store, and lists reasons it was chosen for the award. Gary and Leo's received the alliance's highest award for safety, cleanliness and food safety last year, the Five Star Award.
Tracy Job said the biggest part of selecting an international retailer is the support and involvement in the community. He said stores are selected by their commitment to the "hometown proud" theme of the alliance.
"He does an excellent job in that," he said about Leland, "and the community does an excellent job in supporting him it goes both ways."
Job said this is the top award any of the more than 4,000 stores in the international alliance can win.
"You obviously have to do a bang-up job for a lot of years in a row to get the international award," he said.
The other 10 stores receiving the award were also featured in the magazine and will be accepting their awards Sunday. Gary and Leo's companions in the honor include stores from around the world, in the suburbs of Tokyo; Copiague, N.Y.; Effingham, Ill.; Oklahoma City; Gordonvale, Queensland, Australia, and Matogrosso, Brazil.