Thrifty Foods Co-Founder Slated for Lifetime Achievement Award

Thrifty Foods co-founder Alex A. Campbell will accept the Leadership Victoria Lifetime Achievement Award at the seventh annual Victoria’s Leadership Awards ceremony on Feb. 16 at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

The afternoon reception provides the occasion to honour all nominees of the 2011 Victoria’s Leadership Awards (VLA). Led by Leadership Victoria, the annual VLA awards are a partnership between Leadership Victoria, the University of Victoria, the Rotary Clubs of Greater Victoria, and the Victoria Foundation.

Generations of Greater Victorians have benefited from the generous philanthropic support and enriching community values of Thrifty Foods, and Campbell helped develop a strong vision of charitable giving that has guided the company since its inception nearly 40 years ago.

Campbell is the co-founder, chairman emeritus, and former president and CEO of Thrifty Foods. Entering the grocery industry in 1956 as a young student, he worked his way up to become district manager for Shop Easy stores in Vancouver. He moved to Vancouver Island in 1973 to open the 49th Parallel Grocery in Ladysmith. Campbell branched out in 1977 when he and Ernie Skinner opened the first Thrifty Foods store in the Fairfield neighbourhood of Victoria. The enterprise grew to include 20 stores across Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island, and the Lower Mainland. Thrifty Foods now employs more than 3,700 staff, making the company the largest private employer on Vancouver Island. In 2007, Campbell sold the business to Sobeys, a chain of grocery stores with roots in Stellarton, N.S., and similar values.
From the beginning, Thrifty Foods has been famous for its generous community support, rooted deeply in Campbell’s own personal values of citizenship and philanthropy. Thousands of seniors have benefitted from Sendial, a program where volunteers shop for food and arrange for delivery to housebound seniors. The company has supported literacy through the Times Colonist Book Drive and 400 community groups have received five per cent of cardholders’ grocery purchases through the Smile Card program. Campbell’s leadership of the B.C. Cancer Foundation’s Advisory Council helps the foundation’s efforts to raise $2 million annually to support cancer research on Vancouver Island. He is currently chairing the foundation’s $10 million Inspire the World capital campaign.
Campbell has devoted his life to practicing the values that he preaches. His accomplishments in building Thrifty Foods have earned him many accolades including National Entrepreneur of the Year for Service Excellence, Pacific Retail Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Food Industry Association of Canada’s Knight of the Golden Pencil, among many others.
In 1999 Campbell received the Order of British Columbia and in 2000 Royal Roads University awarded him with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree. In November 2009, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Victoria. UVic’s faculty of business, now the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, acknowledged his achievements with the 2010 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which recognizes an inspirational entrepreneur who has had a significant and positive impact on the global community through business leadership.
“I am deeply honoured to receive this award,” says Campbell. “Throughout the years I have worked with many inspiring leaders across different sectors. Supporting the development of a vibrant community is one of my most cherished personal values and I’ve always tried to instill that same spirit in my business endeavours.”
“Alex Campbell is an inspirational fixture in Victoria,” says VLA chairwoman and Leadership Victoria past president Kate Mansell. “He is a tireless community leader, business pioneer, and philanthropic ambassador. Our community has been immeasurably improved through his strong leadership over the past several decades.”
At the Feb. 16 ceremony, the local organization receiving the third annual Victoria Foundation Community Leadership award and the recipients of the individual Victoria’s Leadership Awards in four categories—the Rotary Community Leadership Awards, the Vancity Youth Award, the University of Victoria Community Leadership Awards, and the Leadership Victoria Alumni Award—will be announced.
This event is very close to being sold out; to inquire, please call 250-386-2269.