The Retailer Owned Food Distributors & Associates (ROFDA) organization will merge under the National Grocers Association (NGA) umbrella, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The announcement was made this morning at the NGA and ROFDA co-located fall conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
ROFDA’s current share groups and buying programs will continue to operate under this new alignment.
“This move is really going to ensure that our organizations together are operating in the most efficient and effective manner possible for all of our members,” NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara said. “We will continue to maintain the special relationships and experiences that ROFDA members and affiliates have come to enjoy and have come to expect over the years.”
ROFDA President and CEO Francis Cameron said ROFDA will remain as an active group under the NGA umbrella.
“We’ll come together with our in-person meetings, and our affiliates can expect to have the same types of access that they’ve had in the past,” Cameron said. “As we evolve and change, our process will be driven by our members. We will be reaching out to you for your commentary.”
Cameron will be joining NGA’s senior leadership team in a new role, SVP of industry relations, and as president of NGA’s service corporation.
Cameron said that over the years NGA and ROFDA have shared a collaborative relationship for good reason—they serve the same constituents.
“It really was the impetus of bringing these great groups together,” he said.
Both organizations have the goal of facilitating and enhancing the success of independent grocers.
Cameron said when he started at ROFDA in 2010, there were 16 members. When he assumed the leadership role in 2012, there were 14 members and today there are eight members. But while there are fewer members, ROFDA’s volume has remained the same, he said.
“While our headcount may have been reduced, our combined sales volume remains strong, our members remain strong, and I think our events are stronger…,” Cameron said. “I also say the most important thing today is to continue to evolve and change and grow. What hasn’t changed, again, is the fact that we need to collaborate better. We need to leverage our strengths and today—probably more than ever—any successful organization is doing just that.”
Ferrara said one thing that will not change are the relationships formed over the years, adding that this is a relationship business.
“We will continue to ensure that our programs help foster existing and provide new opportunities to create relationships. I strongly, passionately, believe the future is very bright for independents,” he said. “When you hear people talk about right-sizing stores or making retail locations destinations, independents are almost always already there. You’re talking about really the entrepreneurial spirit in the marketplace. That’s what the independents are doing each and every day. They’re excelling at personal service, something that national chains would love to be able to tackle. Many are growing, and they’re reinvesting in the business with acquisitions and new stores each and every day.”
Ferrara said due to the competitive nature of the industry, it is important adapt and respond to changes and to work together to grow the industry, “because no one company is going to do it alone.”
ROFDA’s origins date back to 1962, when a group of retailer-owned distributors founded what was then called the Southeastern Food Cooperative Association (SFCA).
NGA was incorporated on Oct. 1, 1982, when the Association of Cooperative Food Distributors of American and the National Association of Retail Grocers of the United States were consolidated into one trade association. Today, NGA represents more than 1,500 independent supermarket companies and remains the only trade association exclusively focused on representing the independent sector of the food industry.