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Patrick commissary ranked Number One

Patrick Commissary Administrator Susan Gutierrez, Store Director Ron Rogers and 45th Space Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Susan Helms show the first place award plaque given to the Patrick Commissary as best in the Eastern Region out of 98 stores. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Calkins)

Patrick Commissary Administrator Susan Gutierrez, Store Director Ron Rogers and 45th Space Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Susan Helms show the first place award plaque given to the Patrick Commissary as best in the Eastern Region out of 98 stores. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Calkins)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- For the first time in its history, the Patrick Air Force Base Commissary beat out 98 other stores and was selected No. 1 in the Defense Commissary Agency's Eastern Region in the "Super Store" division.

"We're thrilled and honored; this is a tremendous thing for our store and it speaks volumes about the quality of people we have working here," said Ron Rogers, store director.

Mr. Rogers also said there are actually three different categories that are judged, depending on sales. They are - in descending order - the super, large and small store competitions.

"The competition for this kind of award is really fierce," Rogers said, "and not only did we win the first-place trophy for the best all-around store, our grocery department also got the nod as being the best in the Eastern Region. For us to win two first places in the same year is really great."

Brig. Gen. Susan Helms. 45th Space Wing commander, said she was very pleased - but not at all surprised - at the result of the annual competition.

"I think all you have to do is shop there once and you immediately get the feel that the workers there really care about their customers and about their jobs," General Helms said. "And I think that attitude comes from the top. Ron (Rogers) leads by example; he truly cares about his customers and his employees feed off his enthusiasm and energy. I'm proud of all of them," she said.

Mr. Rogers said he appreciates the accolades, but knows that without the support of the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners, none of this would be possible.

"The 'Best Store Award' isn't just about sales growth," he said. "An important factor in the selection process was the recognition of our outreach programs. We contribute food and supplies to the quarterly "Dorm Burn Cookout" where our dorm residents have the opportunity to interact with the senior leadership in a relaxed, positive setting. The commissary and industry partners also work with the commander's and first sergeants to sponsor our annual "Holiday Gift Bag Program" to ensure our active duty families don't go hungry and have a happy and prosperous holiday season," he said.

The commanding general agreed.

"There is no requirement for Ron and his staff to do what they do for our Airmen. They do it because they want to... they do it from the heart and it is very much appreciated," said General Helms.

In addition, he said his store has been very successful merging their commitment to our active duty families with the retiree community.

"We don't overlook anyone. The support we get from Patrick Air Force Base and the entire Space Coast area is second-to-none. We know that many of our customers consider shopping at the commissary one of their favorite benefits. That knowledge motivates me and our entire team to remain committed to ensuring the shelves are stocked, that we sell high-quality products and our employees are courteous to everyone. If we continue to do these things, I'm pretty confident our customers will want to continue shopping here," he said.

In May, Mr. Rogers will travel to Richmond, Va., where he will compete against the Western Region winner, Fort Lewis, Wash., and another "super-store" representing Europe for DeCA's world-wide winner.

He wouldn't make any guarantees but when asked about his store's chances, he did admit he wasn't intimidated by the challenge.

"We feel very confident representing Patrick Air Force Base," he said with a smile. "We'll just see how it goes, and until then, we'll just continue doing what we do best - taking care of our customers."