Leadership by Example

Leadership by Example


Michael Sleeper CEO Imperial Distributors

Michael Sleeper
Imperial Distributors



Charlie D’Amour and Ralph Crowley Lead by Example


Next month, the Massachusetts Food Association (MFA) will recognize two industry leaders and their great companies. Charlie D’Amour, President and COO of Big Y Foods, will be inducted into the MFA Hall of Fame; and Ralph Crowley Jr., President and CEO of Polar Beverages, will receive the Community Service Award. I can’t think of two companies (both family- owned) and two people more deserving of MFA’s recognition. Both Charlie and Ralph have been an inspiration to me for many years.

To be inducted into the MFA Hall of Fame, you need to be great at what you do, and do it consistently. Charlie D’Amour is one of the best at what he does. Not only is he a wonderful human being with very strong values, he has an incredible passion for life that includes his family, his company, his community and our industry. Charlie sets the tone for respect and loyalty to customers, business partners and to each Big Y associate. His high standards and commitment to developing the Big Y team have had a profound impact on the growth of the company. His analytical skills and attention to detail is felt throughout the Big Y organization. Those of us who have the privilege to work with him in our industry are grateful for the example he sets. Associations like MFA, Topco, and FMI have all benefited from Charlie’s expertise and leadership. And he loves giving back to the community. One of the major beneficiaries of his involvement is Bay State Health Systems. Charlie D’Amour is a friend, and a great business partner, and we congratulate him on his well-deserved induction into the MFA Hall of Fame.

Imperial shares its home base with Polar Beverages in Worcester, where both Ralph Crowley and I were born and raised. I have seen first-hand the impact the Crowley family and Polar Beverages have on our community. The growth of the company has provided jobs for thousands of people over the years, and Polar has been instrumental in community organizations designed to train and hire disadvantaged inner-city kids. Polar is a sponsor and active participant in many worthy community organization in the Worcester area including Clark University which has directly benefited from Ralph’s support. In addition to his involvement in the community Ralph has been a leader in a number of industry groups including the American Beverage Association and the MFA. Ralph has a unique leadership style. His energy, enthusiasm, and sense of humor are legendary – everyone has a Ralph Crowley story! He energizes people around him to take action. Congratulations Ralph and Polar Beverages on receiving the MFA Community Service Award.

Thank you Charlie D’Amour and Ralph Crowley for leading by example. Both of you have had an extraordinary impact on the growth of our industry.