NGA Honors Industry Leaders with Prestigious Awards During Executive Conference

September 20, 2021

Niemann Foods’ Gerry Kettler, Kimberly-Clarks Dennis Belcastro Recognized

Las Vegas, NV – The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, presented Gerry Kettler, director of consumer affairs at Niemann Foods, with the Thomas F. Wenning Pinnacle PAC Award.  

The award, established in 2014, honors Thomas Wenning, NGA’s former executive vice president and general counsel, for his 40 years of service to NGA and the independent supermarket industry.  

Additionally, Dennis Belcastro, vice president of industry affairs and consumer development at Kimberly-Clark North America, was awarded NGAs annual Industry Service Award. 

Both awards were presented during NGA’s two-day Executive Conference, Sept. 18-19, 2021, at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. 

Kettler is a longtime member of NGA’s Government Relations Committee, guiding advocacy priorities that benefit independent grocers. 

“Gerry has been instrumental in supporting NGA Grocers PAC by providing a guiding vision and generous support,” said Chris Jones, NGA senior vice president of government relations and counsel. “Independent grocers have benefited greatly from Gerry’s dedication and exceptional service to advancing NGA’s interests in government and political affairs.”  

Niemann Foods was founded in 1917 when Fred Niemann Sr. and Steve Niemann opened their first grocery store. Today, Niemann Foods operates more than 100 storefronts, making it the largest independently owned grocery store chain in central Illinois.  

“Gerry’s work ethic and dedication to advancing the interests of America’s independent grocers is inspiring,” said NGA Manager of Grassroots and PAC Terence Huie. “This has become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Gerry has been on the front lines, helping Niemann Foods navigate through difficult circumstances, while providing valuable input to NGA on grocers’ priorities during the pandemic.”  

Belcastro won the Industry Service Award as “well-deserved recognition for all he has done to help meet the needs of the independent community grocery industry and for years of dedication to the association,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO. 

“Denny Belcastro is a great friend to independent grocery operators and a strong supporter of NGA,” Ferrara said. “His leadership over the years and the working relationships he has built with trading partners we serve have been second to none. 

For more than three decades, NGA has recognized the service and extraordinary contributions of distinguished industry leaders with the Industry Service Award. Previous recipients include David Jones of The Kellogg Co. and Jerry Garland of Associated Wholesale Grocers.