Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association Announce 2017 Associate, Producer & Grocer of the Year

AUGUSTA, MAINE – October 13th, 2017
– We’re proud to announce our respected 2017 award recipients.

Snyder’s-Lance of Saco is the 2017 Associate of the Year; Ricker Hill Orchards of Turner is the 2017 Producer of the Year; and Country Farms Market with two locations in Easton and Washburn is the 2017 Grocer of the Year.

Snyder’s-Lance’s Saco, Maine Location, formally Michaud Distributors, was founded as a small family owned business in 1980. The Snyder’s-Lance Maine based subsidiary has been in business more than 30 years as a distributor of quality snacks while offering great service throughout New England. They are committed to satisfying the desire for healthy snack choices that are not only better-for-you, but also deliver on taste and quality. Dave Dickey, ‎Regional Sales Manager, notes they take pride in being the “better than and better for you brand.” They’re dedicated to offering “better snack selections; the cleanest on the market.”

With an office and warehouse staff of 35 people, their market currently covers Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and regions of New York. Their operation includes more than 150 routes (54 Maine routes, which are operated by Independent Maine Business Truck Owners) delivering to mom and pop corner stores and major grocery chains. Snyder’s-Lance’s distribution extends from Lewiston to Calais, and northern parts of the state including Presque Isle, Houlton and Madawaska. On any given day, you can find 15 – 20 tractor trailer trucks coming in and out of their Saco warehouse.

Snyder’s-Lance has an exclusive distribution relationship with Maine chip brand, Humpty Dumpty while distributing other well-known brands including Cape Cod, Kettle Brand and Pop Secret – plus their number one Snyder’s Pretzels and Lance Crackers. Their Saco facility handles 800 product SKUs and 40 manufacturers while also distributing products for other Maine businesses, such as local sauces. They’re constantly evolving their product line to meet customer demands, with many of their developments coming out of their Hanover, PA research and development office. The latest examples include Pretzel Chips and Organic Tortilla Chips.

Congratulations to our partners at Snyder’s-Lance and thank you to Board Member, Jon Dube, Key Account Manager, for your dedication and support of the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association.

Ricker Hill Orchards has primarily been known for their apples with orchards that spread across seven Maine towns ranging from Turner to Bridgton. Ninety percent of their apple production is sold in Maine and Eastern New Hampshire. Ricker Hill Orchards has expanded their harvest to include cranberries, pumpkins, blueberries and grapes. The operation boosts over 1,000 acres of uncultivated wildlife habitat and hundreds of acres of wetland.

Founded in 1803, the business is rich in family history. Don Ricker, 7th generation owner, is 81 years young and still works everyday alongside family business partners including his sons Harry, Peter of Wallingford’s, Jeff Timberlake, and grandchildren Andy, Jenny and husband Steve. Harry Ricker, Farm Operations Manager and his wife Nancy, Office Manager, express their gratitude for the award, “We very much appreciate the award you’ve bestowed upon us, and I say us, as we are a family farm, we have many employees and employee families who have worked with us for generations.”

Ricker Hill Orchards hasn’t stopped at harvesting and wholesaling their fruits, in the early 2000’s they opened their Farm Stand featuring a bakery with savory, homemade donuts, a variety of value added products and cater to friends and families looking for a weekend of fun with u-pick apple orchards, disc golf course, a corn maze, sugar shack, bounce houses and more!

Their vision and ability to predict customer demands has aided in their success. In 2014, they launched a line of hard ciders and opened a tasting room in Turner. Andy Ricker, Cider Operations Manager, noted, “We would also like to thank the members of the association for helping us launch our hard cider line, Maniac, over the last three years. As well as our re-introduction and launch of the organic and IPM apple cider vinegar.” Most recently, they’ve purchased and integrated a new cider press into their operation, one of only 6 or 7 of this stature in North America – capable of producing more than 1,000 gallons an hour.

Congratulations to Ricker Hill Orchards on all your success and a special thank you to Tasting Room Manager, Leo Ouellette, for the passion and insight you’ve brought to the Association.

Mark Kelley, owner of Country Farms Market, began his grocery career almost 20 years ago when he worked in a local IGA store while still attending college. Working under the direction of Scott Carlin, IGA store-owner, he gained valuable experience and skills that led him to his dream of owning and operating his own store.

When the opportunity arose in 2009, Mark purchased his first store in Easton. With such success in Easton, Mark looked to expand his desire to own and operate another store. In 2012, he purchased his second store in his home-town of Washburn. Both markets have a big store selection and small country store appeal.

Today, Mark not only operates the Washburn location, but also collaborates his Country Farms Market catering business with now Easton store owner, Mike Gallagher. Catering offers an additional avenue to expand the business and offers year-round services for any event. In addition to the store business and catering, Mark also owns and operates Country Farms Properties with real estate in numerous towns.

Mr. Kelley appreciates working with his vendors who are very knowledgeable in their own product offerings. Country Farms Market and the catering events are skillfully serviced by C&S Wholesale, AG New England, Dennis Paper, and Core-Mark. They help him provide the best options for the store and the catering events throughout the year. Mark believes in “hard work, long hours, dedication and a desire for excellence.” He praises his employees for their service and contributes his success to his family, employees, vendors and customers.

Mark also believes in giving back to the community that supports him. He sponsors and contributes to many local activities, sporting events, clubs, and organizations; including the County Dialysis Center on a yearly basis.

Congratulations to Country Farms Market owner Mark Kelley as our 2017 Grocer of the Year. Mark’s perspective as a small, independent grocer helps ensure the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association’s work remains close to our mission.