The team that led before us is the one that got us here today

GMDC|Retail Tomorrow has helped define and lead the retail industry throughout one of the most tumultuous periods of time. From our early beginnings, the vision and values have remained true and stood the test of time. What started in 1970 by Fran Willmes turned into an authority within the retail space, with international recognition and profound impact on the industry that we know today.

Throughout our history, successes sought were often led by one signal individual who had the motivation and perseverance to disrupt industry to the point of noticeable change. These individuals came from a variety of companies and retail entities, with one consistent characteristic: the drive to succeed.

The GMDC Lifetime Achievement awards were founded to acknowledge the achievements of these individuals who made major contributions to mass market retailing with a focus on the general merchandise and the health, beauty and wellness categories. The first recipient of the award came in 1995, and appropriately enough, was given to GMDC|Retail Tomorrow founder, Fran Willmes.

From there, each leader that was recognized, helped define the retail industry and support the vision of the association. The mark they left with our team and entire association is profound and it was our greatest honor to work alongside each one of them.

As we look ahead to what the future holds, we are thankful for those who guided us before, and look forward to our paths crossing again.


2018 Bob Richardson
2017 Vince Burke
2016 Jim Wonderly
2015 Joe Bivona
2014 Lou Martire
2013 Skip Aldridge
2012 Jerry Brown

2011 Terry Cox
2010 Jerry Barnes
2009 Wayne Bryant
2008 Norton Sarnoff
2007 Wally Murray
2006 Bill Parsons
2005 Norm Loringer

2004 Charles Yahn
2003 Jim Larsen
2002 Ron Demczak
2001 Jim Donnelly
2000 Rick Tilton
2000 Bob Ernsberger
1999 Scott Roberts

1998 David Pettigrew
1997 Peter Ephraim
1997 Glenn Snyder
1996 Jerry Gilbert
1995 Fran Willmes