After 36 years with Associated Grocers, Ian Dickson is hanging up his grocery apron, retiring from his current position as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.
Ian was born into the grocery business. He was the youngest of three children to Flo and Charlie Dickson. Charlie was in the grocery business all his life and when he retired, he too was a Vice President at Associated Grocers.
Ian is a BC boy, graduated from Burnaby Central High School with a sports scholarship in track and field. He earned his degree in Business at Simon Fraser University.
He was persuaded by his father to come and work with him at Associated Merchants in 1981 in Victoria, BC. A few years later Ian moved over to work in produce at Slade and Stewart in Victoria.
His next career move was to follow his father Charlie to Associated Grocers in Calgary. In 1985, he was hired on as the Southern Alberta sales specialist. From there, he transitioned into the Marketing department and eventually becoming Director of Marketing. In 2017, he transitioned to a new role as Vice President Strategic Initiatives and handed the Marketing leadership over to Brody Powell.
Dan Bregg, President, Buy-Low Foods LP, says “Ian has played a key role in the growth of Associated Grocers over the years through his extensive experience and expertise in his many years of leading the Marketing and Merchandising for the Independent Grocer in Western Canada and, more recently, in providing critical leadership in the greater Buy-Low Foods Group of company’s strategic growth initiatives”.
Bregg refers specifically to the mentoring role Ian played in the company. He “ensured that we are left with dedicated, capable, and passionate leaders in the next generation to take us forward as Associated Grocers approaches its 100th year of operation.
I personally, will forever cherish the dedication and support – but most importantly the friendship – that Ian has given me throughout the years. Our relationship long ago transitioned far beyond being work colleagues to being good friends. Although we won’t be ‘in the business’ together post-retirement, I know that we will be getting together from time to time socially to break bread, lift a glass and catch each other up on our families and our adventures”.
During the Covid pandemic, Ian showed his metal by helping to develop policies and procedures regarding working from home and stepping up sanitization in facilities as well as helping customers put in place the same policies at their stores.
Larry Chmielewski, vice-president wholesale, says Ian has been a solid pillar in the building of Associated Grocers. “He is well respected in the vendor/supplier community also, by all the AG retailers in Western Canada. He has been at the helm of the ‘AG Family’ always with the best interest of our customers first and foremost”.
Larry says Ian loves to travel and has set course for many of their tours around the world with the AG Family of Retailers. “I think this was his favorite part of his career that and planning the annual Fairmont Hot Springs Retailer and Vendor conference now in it’s 50 plus years. I know he will never be far away from his home here at AG. The AG team and the grocery industry wish Ian, “Happy Trails” to a long and healthy, well-deserved retirement”.
Lyle Waldren, Vice President, Retail Sales -Western Accounts & Wal-Mart at Saputo Dairies, Canada, says “I have called on Ian since the early 1990. I have always enjoyed working with Ian and have found him to challenge a company representative to be better, and a great supporter of the western industry.
In December 2012 Ian was selected by the Calgary Food and Drug Executive as the Santa Cause recipient. When I heard that Ian been selected, I phoned him asked him if he was retiring? During a 30-minute call, Ian adamantly denied he was retiring – I didn’t believe him. While that day has finally come proving I was right to be suspicious 9 years ago. Good luck in your retirement Ian”.
Most of the industry knows Ian as a tough but fair negotiator, but most might not know Ian’s personal side being a genuine philanthropist. Today Ian owns a beautiful home that he built in Bali, Indonesia. He shares this with an adopted family that live in his villa; and he has helped the family and the three children to be educated, to expand their family business as a taxi and tour guide, he even supported them with a business venture. Today the eldest boy is married and has two children. Ian prides himself on being highly organized and self-assured. A true leader, he’s able to take decisive action when necessary, but loves a good back and forth discussion to come to the right conclusion. Ian is enthusiastic and passionate about the grocery business and occasionally does get a little hot under the collar. But he has mellowed considerably over the years and truly has a kind heart and cares about people. His customer first, supportive attitude has shaped his staff into the hard working, friendly team of today.