California’s largest regional grocer recognizes outstanding leaders across California and Western Nevada

MODESTO, Calif. (March 4, 2024)The Save Mart Companies, California’s largest regional grocer, operating nearly 200 stores under the Save Mart, Lucky, and FoodMaxx banners, is honored to announce that Robert Alton is the recipient of the Robert M. Piccinini & Nicholas J. Tocco Outstanding Store Manager of the Year Award for 2023.  Alton, who manages the Save Mart store in Oakdale, California, was honored in front of a crowd of 400 at the company’s 30th Annual Management Awards Gala on Saturday, March 2, 2024 in Downtown Modesto.

“With humble roots firmly planted in California’s Central Valley, The Save Mart Companies has been a proud fixture in the communities we serve for more than 70 years,” said Shane Sampson, executive chairman of the board. “Each of our store managers provide leadership, guidance, and executes the organization’s vision for excellence. I want to congratulate Robert for continually rising to the challenge and earning this outstanding achievement.”

“I am truly humbled,” said Robert Alton, Oakdale Save Mart Store Manager. “None of this would be possible without the amazing team at the Oakdale store, serving our shoppers. Everyone working together toward a common goal; supporting each other. I couldn’t do what I do without each of them.”

In addition to an etched, blown cobalt glass vase trophy, Alton received a $30,000 cash prize and will have the opportunity to wave the green flag at the Save Mart 350 NASCAR Race this June at Sonoma Raceway. Recognition was also given to the Top Store Managers at FoodMaxx and Lucky – Lisa Pappas from the Marysville FoodMaxx location and Mario Guerrero from the Pleasanton Lucky store.  Pappas and Guerrero each received a $5,000 cash award. 

A rare leader who worked in all three of The Save Mart Companies’ banner stores over his 33-year career, Alton’s introduction to grocery came in 1991 while working at Lucky in high school. Outside Save Mart, Alton enjoys working on cars, running, building custom cabinets, and spending time with his wife Holly and their two children.

The 30th Annual Management Awards Gala also recognized multiple leaders with the Building the Future Award and the Building the Community Award.

“We have several standouts among a very strong group of store leaders that meet and exceed the needs of our shoppers and motivate our associates throughout The Save Mart Companies,” said Donovan Ford, senior vice president and chief operations officer for The Save Mart Companies. “It is truly inspiring to see these managers engage in their communities, mentor their teams, and lead from the floors of the stores.”

Building the Future

With an eye toward developing the leaders of tomorrow, the Building the Future Award recognizes three store managers who continually demonstrate the company’s values of leading by example, integrity, and compassion. The winners have a history of developing, mentoring, and cultivating the next generation of leaders. Recipients received a $1,000 donation for a store team celebration. The store managers recognized with the 2023 Building the Future Award are:

  • Kelly Bizzini, Store Manager, Save Mart Modesto, Store 86
  • Thomas Wilson, Store Manager, Lucky San Francisco, Store 755
  • Ed Barrios, Store Manager, FoodMaxx Fresno, Store 414

Building the Community

The Building the Community Award honors three store managers for their extraordinary commitment to their local neighborhood and community groups. Being an active member and resource for communities is at the heart of each and every store. Each winner received a $1,000 donation to a non-profit organization of their choice. This year’s Building the Community Award recipients include: 

  • Paul Azevedo, Store Manager, Save Mart Paradise, Store 613
  • Ann Bradford, Store Manager, Lucky Martinez, Store 725
  • Jamie Hageman, Store Manager, FoodMaxx, Ukiah Store 473

The Save Mart Companies is proud to recognize these outstanding store leaders and is appreciative of all associates companywide for their dedication to shoppers and the communities they serve.

About The Save Mart Companies

The Save Mart Companies, a Kingswood Capital Management, LP portfolio company and a California-based grocer, operate 194 Save Mart, Lucky, and FoodMaxx stores in California and Western Nevada. In addition to its retail operation, the Company also operates SMART Refrigerated Transport and is a partner in Super Store Industries (“SSI”), which owns and operates a distribution center in Lathrop, and the Sunnyside Farms dairy processing plant in Turlock. Proud to be California’s largest regional, full-service grocery chain, the Company and its 13,000 associates take extra care to provide customers with the freshest foods for their families at affordable prices. For more information on the company, please visit: