The award is named after Schwartz, a former chairman of Unified and a board member for over 40 years, who received the first visionary award in 2005. Schwartz in his 90’s, was present at the awards dinner.
According to Unified, the award recognizes independent retailers who, “by their practice and example, have consistently demonstrated initiative, creativity and leadership within their businesses and have inspired others to think and act creatively and with passion in the grocery field.”
In presenting the award, Bob Ling, Unified president and chief executive officer, said, “The award carries the name of a true retail visionary. The idea behind it is to recognize someone who exemplifies Ben Schwartz’s spirit, character and ultimately the vision he demonstrated throughout his long career.”
Referring to the Gonzalez family that owns the 38-store chain, Ling said, “Their passion toward customers and retailing is clearly evident as you walk through their stores. Northgate Gonzalez Markets is a great company, and the best is yet to come.”
Previous winners have included Mike Provenzano Jr., Pro’s Ranch Markets; Lou Amen, Super A Foods; Dick and Rick Wright, Market of Choice; Gelson’s Markets; Town & Country Markets; Superior Grocers and Mollie Stone’s Markets.