HIGHLAND | A fixture in the local business community is retiring.
After four decades working for Strack & Van Til, the last 16 years as president and CEO, David Wilkinson announced Friday he will leave the job in August. He is targeting Aug. 5 as his last day but will stay on longer if his replacement is not found by then, according to a statement.
Headquartered in Highland, Strack & Van Til operates 38 stores under the Strack & Van Til, Ultra Food and Town & Country brand names in Illinois and Indiana.
Strack and Van Til is a subsidiary of Central Grocers, the nation’s seventh largest grocery distributor.
Wilkinson, 59, started with the company as a clerk in his teens. He worked his way up the management ladder, becoming president and CEO in 1998.
“It was never my intention to make a career in the grocery business,” he said. “The industry just becomes a part of you. So much has changed over the years, but at the heart of it is providing great customer service. That has been a constant.”
Under his leadership, Strack & Van Til has shown steady growth.
“When I took over we had 10 stores producing sales of about $350 million annually,” he stated. "Today, we have 38 stores and are a $1.1 billion chain. I’m very proud of the history of growth over the last 16 years.”
Central Grocers President and CEO Kenneth Nemeth acknowledged Wilkinson's work.
“Dave has served his customers, employees and our industry well during his tenure at Strack & Van Til," he said. "Central Grocers has enjoyed an outstanding relationship with Dave during his career and we wish him and his wife Donna well in retirement. We thank Dave for the great job he did and growing the company into what it is today.”