As Richard Watson moves into the next phase of his life, it is a terrific opportunity to reflect on his illustrious four-decade career in the grocery industry, including 24 years with Associated Food Stores. Most recently, Richard has served as a senior space management specialist. Throughout his career, Richard demonstrated adaptability, commitment and the impact of mentorship and relationships.

Richard has seen many changes, including the positive technological changes within the grocery industry and AFS. “The advancement in technology, particularly in space management, has transformed how we operate,” says Richard. Richard’s life has also changed for the better with his professional journey, marked by many milestones and relationships that have enriched his experience. He appreciates the influence of mentors like David Rice, who hired him, and colleagues such as Gordon Sanders, Dennis Griffiths, Lisa Dall, Emily Nelson, Boyd Irving, and David Panter, who have all contributed to his professional growth.

Balancing professional responsibilities with personal life was not an easy task “Learning to manage my time effectively has had a tremendous impact on my life,” he said. This skill was pivotal in his career and has given him the opportunity to maintain a healthy work-life balance, fostering both personal and professional fulfillment.

As Richard moves into his retirement, he looks forward to dedicating his time to service-based activities. He is and will continue to be involved in voluntary work and plans to increase the time spent there. Additionally, Richard will be happy to spend more time on home improvement projects and enjoying vacations with his family. An avid music enthusiast, he aims to bring more concerts to the City of Bountiful near his home.

Richard reflected on valuable life lessons he applied to his personal life such as organizing seasonal shows that honed his merchandising skills. (These skills translated well into home projects.) Reflecting on his career, he acknowledges, “Life has become more enjoyable. There have been ups and downs, but it has been a good ride.”

Richard emphasizes the significance of mentorship and professional relationships in his success. “Mentoring is crucial, especially in the grocery industry,” he said. Building strong relationships between departments has been integral to his career, setting AFS apart from other companies for which he has worked.

Navigating the treacherous terrain of the world of grocery for over 40 years has been one of Richard’s greatest challenges. Richard said, “Being adaptable is probably the biggest challenge, and I advise people to learn that skill.” Continual learning and professional development were never hard for Richard, thanks to the camaraderie in the GM department. “It was not a burden to come to work since I worked with so many incredible people,” he said.

Richard had this to say about the future of AFS. “I am not worried about the future of AFS; we will succeed with so many great leaders,” he said. Richard offers incredible advice to the next generation of AFS team members saying, “The trend seems to be that the new generation tends to move jobs often, but if you stay with AFS, good things will happen.”

Dave Hill, reflecting on Richard’s impact, said, “Richard has played a key role in the building and success of the Space Management department and the biannual GM Shows here at AFS. He is the true team player and has been a great mentor, friend, and colleague to all those who have worked with him throughout the years. It has been a truly rewarding two-plus decades working with him.”