More than 500 hundred people filled the St. James Hall in Highland for Strack & Van Til’s annual Vendor Christmas Party on Thursday. From warm welcomes and laughs to delicious food and big-ticket raffle prizes, Strack & Van Til pulled out all the stops for their vendors.
“This event is our small way of saying ‘thank you’ to all of our partners and vendors for all the hard work they do for Strack & Van Til throughout the year,” said Jeff Strack, President & CEO of Strack & Van Til. “When you look at the structure of Strack & Van Til, our associates and customers are a critical component, but the other pieces are the vendors that help us be successful throughout the year.”
Strack & Van Til’s Vendor Christmas Party has become a longstanding tradition that the hundreds of vendors look forward to every year. The event originally started more than 40 years ago in Larry Raab’s basement, a former owner of the grocery chain, as a small get together and has grown every year since.
For vendors like Will Edmonds, the off-premise sales manager at Indiana Beverage, the event is a great place to network and meet the other faces that help fulfill the grocer’s mission.
“This event is awesome because it helps build camaraderie with the Strack & Van Til family and the Indiana Beverage family and the appreciation they show for all the vendors,” Edmonds said.
“We have a great partnership with Strack & Van Til, and the way they treat their vendors makes you feel like family.”
Attendees were given the opportunity to try their luck with a 50/50 raffle with the proceeds to benefit the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. New this year were door prizes. As people entered the room, they received one free ticket and the chance to win big.
“Everyone loves to win something. We wanted to add excitement for the people that are coming by,” Strack said. “We have a few 65-inch TVs, sports memorabilia, wine baskets, and some cool tech gadgets.”
The event attracted some familiar faces outside of Strack & Van Til’s partners in the food industry, too.
“One of the things I started to do a few years ago was invite former employees that retired. They’re the people who’ve been a part of the success of building the Strack & Van Til brand over the years,” Strack said. “More importantly, I want them to feel that we appreciate the work they’ve done to help the company get to where it is today. This is a great opportunity for us to say hello to them and keep them in the Strack & Van Til family.”
One of the friendliest faces at the event belonged to Lynne Donovan, a Strack & Van Til veteran who worked more than 20 years entering data for the company’s buyers. After retiring from the company for a few years, Donovan was eager to get back to work part-time. The Christmas party is something Donovan loves to be a part of and looks forward to every year.
“The Vendor Christmas Party is a very special event,” Donovan said. “This year’s party brought out a lot of people who we haven’t seen in a while. It’s always great seeing all the different vendors, having fun with them, and catching up. They donate so many things for all the charitable work Strack & Van Til does, and that’s what makes it so special.”
For more information on Strack & Van Til and the brands they carry, visit their website.