Celebrating 70 years of serving local communities, the grocer recognizes outstanding store leaders across California and Northern Nevada stores

MODESTO, Calif. (March 14, 2022) – Celebrating its 70th anniversary, The Save Mart Companies – California’s largest regional, family-owned grocer, operating more than 200 stores under the banners of Save Mart, Lucky California and FoodMaxx – is honored to announce the company’s 2021 Nicholas J. Tocco Outstanding Store Manager of the Year Award to John Romine of the Angels Camp, CA Save Mart store.

The Outstanding Store Manager of the Year Award was created 28 years ago in honor of the late Nicholas J. Tocco, co-founder of The Save Mart Companies, and celebrates excellence in customer service, community involvement and store performance. The company held a virtual ceremony to honor the annual Store Manager of the Year Awards, presented by The Save Mart Companies CEO, Chris McGarry.

“John Romine represents everything that The Save Mart Companies embodies, and I am honored to present the 2021 Nicholas J. Tocco Outstanding Store Manager of the Year Award to such an amazing leader,” said McGarry. “It is truly inspiring to see John and his store team members meet our customers’ evolving needs with such passion and determination.”

Romine, with more than 30 years and counting of service to The Save Mart Companies, uses the same dedication and passion he promotes at the store within his community. John previously won The Save Mart Companies “Community Leadership” award twice and most recently joined the Save Mart Employees Association Board of Directors to help support fellow team members.  Outside of work, John holds great working relationships with several organizations in his community, sitting on the Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and volunteering at the Resource Connection Food Bank every holiday season.

“This award is a testament to the strength and capabilities of my amazing team, who proudly serve the residents of Angels Camp and the surrounding communities of our Save Mart store,” said Romine. “Working with The Save Mart Companies this year has been a phenomenal experience and I am thankful for the company’s support and providing team members a safe and healthy workplace. I share this award with all store managers who dedicate themselves to ensure their teams are taken care of and who in return take care of our customers. And lastly to my wife, who without I wouldn’t have the solid foundation of support to be my best self every day.”

“It’s a privilege to work with so many talented store managers, who go to great lengths to guide their store teams, and provide unparalleled customer service to shoppers every day,” stated Hal Levitt, senior vice president of retail operations and supply chain for The Save Mart Companies. “With each of these awards, we’re confident The Save Mart Companies is poised for ongoing success, for our next 70 years.”

In addition to an etched, blown blue glass vase trophy, the winner receives $20,000 toward a new vehicle. Runners-up receive cash awards. Lawrence Szeto from the Concord Lucky California store and Noe Elizondo from the Visalia, CA FoodMaxx location were named first and second runners-up, respectively.

The Store Manager of the Year virtual ceremony also recognized three store managers with the Building the Future Award and an additional three store managers with the Building the Community Award – a recognition award created in 2020 due to the extreme challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Building the Future

With an eye toward developing the leaders of tomorrow, the newly created Building the Future Award recognizes store managers and directors who continually demonstrate the company’s values of leading by example, integrity, and compassion. The winners develop, mentor, and cultivate the next generation of the organization’s leaders. Recipients received a one-year subscription to LinkedIn Learning and a $500 donation to a non-profit organization in their community. The store managers and directors receiving the award included:

  • Jerald Smith – Save Mart #1, Modesto, CA
  • Ed Etienne – Lucky #233, San Jose, CA
  • Jeremy Bryant – FoodMaxx #460, San Jose, CA

Building the Community

The Building the Community Award honors store managers for their extraordinary commitment to their local neighborhoods and community groups. Being an active member of and resource for communities is at the heart of The Save Mart Companies. Each winner receives a $1,000 donation to a local non-profit organization of their choice. This year’s Building the Community award recipients included:

  • David Janzen – Save Mart #27, Reedley, CA
  • Greg Gilliam – Lucky California #719, Hollister, CA
  • Jolene Cyr – FoodMaxx #489, Vallejo, CA

The Save Mart Companies is proud to recognize these outstanding store leaders and is appreciative of all team members companywide, who are working every day to keep prices low, and shelves stocked, while also providing unparalleled customer service.