Company Leaders Represent “One AFS” at Global Church Headquarters 

On Wednesday, May 25, Bob Obray, president and CEO, along with Roger White, executive vice president of sales and wholesale operations, represented Associated Food Stores at a large gathering at the Global Headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

Bob and Roger were invited to share with close to 100 members of the church’s finance and accounting group, and other guests, how AFS managed the many challenges the company faced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic through today.

With a theme of “Overcoming the Unexpected,” Bob and Roger introduced Associated Food Stores and shared how the company got its start. Following the introduction, Bob discussed “One Associated” and gave insights into the makeup and function of each element of the company, member retailers, ARO corporate and wholesale operations. Bob paid high compliments to the entire AFS team for their dedication and adaptability. 

“While we do provide goods and services,” said Bob. “Our company is about people. It’s about relationships and trust. I’m proud of our team at Associated Food Stores. Team members have risen to every challenge that has come our way over the past few years with a determination and passion that makes me proud to work with them.” 

Bob shared the video created for the annual meeting with attendees to give the group additional insight into the company’s culture and commitment. He also talked about the role each team member plays in the “pit crew” for AFS’ member retailers and how, through diverse teams, the company can be as effective as possible.  

“A recent study determined that while teams made better decisions than individuals 66 percent of the time, diverse teams outperformed individuals 87 percent of the time,” said Bob. “At Associated Food Stores, we benefit every day from this approach.” 

Roger gave insights into AFS’ supply chain and many of the challenges the team faced, sharing photos of empty shelves and pictures of the incredible amount of product that left the distribution center in early 2020. Roger also provided an overview of how the global supply chain presents unique challenges to grocers and what the team did, and continues to do, to overcome barriers by working together. 

Roger outlined four keys to managing the unexpected citing the importance of being highly aligned but loosely coupled, developing cross-functional teams, fostering trust and confidence and prioritizing communication. 

“These elements need to be in place before there are major challenges,” said Roger. “We are fortunate to have a team that understands and applies these principles.” 

Bob and Roger concluded the presentation by answering questions from the group. Church employees inquired about supply, fuel costs, labor and communication and the two AFS leaders represented the company well with the inquisitive and informed group. 

“We are all ambassadors for ‘One Associated’ and each other,” said Bob. “It is easy for me to talk about the greatness of our retailers and team members and it’s an honor to represent the company as we interact with other organizations.”