and the 2023 fmi ap rising star winner is....


Michelle Fisher, Festival Foods - Winner!
Here is what people are saying about Michelle: 
Michelle Fisher joined the Festival Foods Asset Protection team in 2017 as Business Insights Specialist.  In that role, Michelle primarily led the implementation and evolution of the exception reporting program, cashier discrepancy investigations, and our in-house shoplifter restitution program.

As Michelle grew in her role, she began to take on additional program components - utilizing point-of-sale data to help drive insights to our business and assisting various teams throughout our company.  In 2020, she was promoted to Profit Protection Manager, and in 2022 she continued her journey with another promotion to Profit Protection Assistant Director.  All throughout her tenure with Festival Foods, Michelle’s leadership has been a vital part of the evolution of the Profit Protection department.

Michelle’s current team makes a significant impact on the profitability of our company.  They protect company assets and increase profitability by analyzing, reporting, and communicating key operational business opportunities through the use of exception reporting systems and Asset Protection technologies.  The team is highly skilled in identifying actionable data that the business can use to make decisions to increase guest service and improve company profitability.

Michelle’s leadership style is best described as equipping and empowering.   She completed a five-week Collaborative Leadership course to learn new ways to inspire and lead her team.   She is a pivotal contributor to the culture of Festival Foods.  She is a humble leader who is often seen praising others for their great work; she doesn’t seek recognition of her own.

Her responsibilities touch every department and store, and she regularly interacts with associates on every level.   She often steps up to lead projects that fall outside her role's responsibilities, which speaks to her being a respected business leader within our company.  Michelle recently partnered with Operations to help oversee the development of our guest satisfaction program.   The program rolled out to all 40 stores and 8,000 associates and was an immediate success.  

Michelle is also partnering with Human Resources to co-lead our company’s initiative on mental health awareness in partnership with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).   Her passion for mental health awareness is driving this important initiative forward.

Michelle is passionate about giving back to her community.   For the past year, she volunteered her time to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America as a big sister to “V”.   Michelle lights up when she talks about her time with her little sister.
Meet the Other 2023 Finalists for the FMI AP Rising Star Award are:
(in no particular order)

richard aaron - stater bros. markets

Richard Aaron, Stater Bros. - Finalist
Here is what people are saying about Richard: 
Business Excellence:  Rich and I have had many conversations related to “making a difference” and “Providing value” for our company in our Loss Prevention roles. He definitely took those conversations to heart early on in his career. Rich is a forward thinker, and he has a unique ability to understand where technology is headed and how to keep our department in the forefront of emerging trends. A few years ago, he had a vision to convert all analog video systems to a digital format, for our entire chain of 170 retail stores. I shared his vison and tasked him to research and select a first-class network video solution that would offer us the ability to show a strong ROI in multiple areas of the business. We also knew that our marketplace would become more challenging as California continued to pass weak crime legislation. (Prop 47)

Rich and I presented to our Executive team and they approved a six-million-dollar budget for the project. Not only did Rich convert every store location from analog to digital with a first-class product (AXIS), he added network cameras to cover the meat grinders (product integrity),server cameras (PCI compliance & data security), and high-resolution entry cameras that would be the foundation for his next big project...a game-changing technology not traditionally used in a retail store. Also, Rich and our network team also added the ability for Store Managers to view video from a mobile device, eliminating the need to “run to the office” multiple times per day. Our network camera count came in at over 8,000! Very impressive!

As we completed the digital conversion in early 2019, Rich’s vision came to life, and we quickly realized we had only scratched the surface of opportunity. The upgrade primed us for multiple avenues to become more efficient, more effective, and more profitable. As the Covid-19 pandemic spread we immediately benefitted from the use of camera analytics, including people counting, contact tracing, and push notification alerts.

The value added to our company after the digital conversion has been impactful. However, the biggest win was yet to come.

People Excellence:   Training was instrumental to the success of our new digital camera platform. Rich was passionate about training our LP team as a video expert and then he took on the daunting task of training nearly 1200 Store Managers how to bookmark, how to search, and how to download video evidence for Law Enforcement. He even taught himself how to create short training videos using screen capture software. These videos were then posted on our intranet server, automating the video training for all new users. Then he worked with our IT team to give our Liability Department and Loss Prevention Department the ability to pull video remotely from our corporate office. Rich also provided a great solution to our LP team by implementing a cloud-based video transfer tool, which allowed us to send large, encrypted video files to anyone with an email address. This was a game changer for all of us as it eliminated the need to travel to every store to collect video evidence. During this training season Rich worked tirelessly, above and beyond his normal duties, to better serve our stores and our end users.

Profit Excellence:  The pandemic slowed down our quest to deploy the second piece of Rich’s vision. Rich researched and selected a promising solution provider of a powerful emerging technology. We managed to deploy a pilot in a few stores and saw immediate success with a small a watchlist of known offenders. Rich and I saw enormous potential to deter ORC and prevent repeat offenders from being detected. Rich pushed thru two cases of Covid during this time and I nearly lost my wife after 12 days in the ER. Scary!

In 2020 and 2021 we added additional stores with the new technology and experienced some amazing wins! Multiple stores with the system reduced their external theft up to 70%! Game-changer!

At the same time, our company reduced their liability claims by millions of dollars due to the clarity and detail from our new cameras. In the past, poor-quality evidence was expensive.

In 2022 Rich kicked the emerging technology into high gear and rolled it out to every store. Today, the theft deterrent is massive (500 alerts per day).  We’ve disbanded ORC rings, eliminated counterfeit bills, and dramatically reduced our investigative labor. The system is also an amazing tool for employee safety. Managers now receive real-time alerts when anyone from our watchlist (nearly 20k) returns to steal, defraud, disrupt, or threaten our employees. We eliminate nearly all the risk by providing excellent customer service to all repeat offenders and they leave empty-handed over 90% of the time! In addition, we have assisted Law Enforcement with solving multiple homicide cases using this technology. (Everybody’s gotta eat, right?)

We sell Raisin Bran and soda pop we’re using some of the most advanced technology in America! How cool is that?

Rich continues to find new ways to add value for our company. He’s currently testing the use of body-worn cameras in our retail stores. His creativity includes using the BWCs not only for our Security team but he’s also experimenting with them for floor sweep integrity and curbside deliveries.

I’m extremely grateful to have him on my team. He truly is a Rising Star!

Patrick Walsh - KROGER

Patrick Walsh, Kroger - First Runner-Up
Here is what people are saying about Patrick: 
We want to nominate Patrick Walsh, our ORC Manager in Chicago. I can’t imagine any other candidate out there right now can compare with the work he’s done the past year.

While I can’t publicly detail many of Patrick’s highlights, the recent Chicago case we highlighted during the webinar speaks for itself. Patrick championed the investigation, in partnership with other retailers, and utilized his vast law enforcement network to bring to fruition a multi-million dollar ORC investigation in less than seven months. Patrick is continuing this trend with additional ongoing investigations that I cannot detail here, though we anticipate his future cases will dwarf the recent Chicago case.

Patrick also has been instrumental in managing multiple major crimes investigations. While I don’t want to publicly share the precise details, Patrick’s swift intervention and expertise in the field of Threat Assessment & Management has contributed to providing a safe and secure shopping and work environment for both customers and associates alike.

Patrick has been recognized by the Wilmette, Illinois’ Village Council for his contributions to the safety and security of their village as a result of the Chicago ORC investigation. He also is in leadership roles in several ORC organizations, and builds relationships with law enforcement agencies and peer retail partners unlike anyone I have ever met.
In summation, Patrick embodies what it means to be a ‘Rising Star,’ and, in my humble opinion, sets a standard of excellence for against which all other ORC investigators should strive to achieve.

(Additional info provided)
While hiring for an ORC Manager to cover the Chicago market, Patrick Walsh instantly stood out as a top candidate. It was certainly The Kroger Co.’s good fortune to have attained such a competent investigator, but the industry’s as well. Never did I image at the time of his hire the quality and quantity of results Patrick would be able to achieve and in such a short time frame. Patrick is of the highest quality in performance, partnership, professionalism, and has impressed beyond measure.

Within his first few weeks at the company, Patrick had already identified many areas of opportunity within his assigned region. He conducted numerous assessments and evaluations of the stores, division, and resources without being prompted to do so. With the knowledge gained, he immediately developed plans and jumped into action to address the issues while in his own new hire training period.

Patrick’s position was highly competitive, and I was concerned about this since he would have to serve many that had applied for and were not awarded the position. I was amazed to see how Patrick immediately built partnerships by treating his co-workers and all that he serves as his customers. His teamwork and networking capabilities were more far-reaching than I could have ever imagined. I have never had more associates and law enforcement professionals approach me with the sole purpose of telling me what an asset Patrick is to them and all of retail.

Although I am unable to divulge the details of the ORC investigations that Patrick worked in 2022, I can assure you they are the accomplishment dreams of every ORC investigator and retailer in the country. Just one of his investigations in Chicago resulted in many millions of recovered stolen products and future profits savings for Kroger and other retailers. And though an ORC investigator could hang his hat on that single case and call if a great career, Patrick shines bright knowing that he is investigating more and even bigger ORC cases that are sure to make the headlines in the near future.

andrea mealey - giant eagle

Andrea Mealey, Giant Eagle - Finalist
Here is what people are saying about Andrea: 
I have had the pleasure of witnessing Andrea grow in her roles in Loss Prevention over the past 10 years.  Most recently, as the divisional Loss Prevention Manager, overseeing all Loss Prevention aspects for locations throughout Ohio and Indiana.  Plus, growing the District Loss Prevention Manager team over they years. She is currently growing the department to include an Organized  Retail Crime Specialist and a GetGo District Loss Prevention Manager.  Additionally, Andrea has been the acting OROCC (Ohio Regional Organized Crime Coalition) President since December 2021.  Before that she served on the OROCC board as the Treasurer for years.  She is working closely with the Attorney General's Office, local LE and local retailers to reestablish ways combat ORC throughout Ohio again.

I will never forget a few months into Andrea joining Loss Prevention as the Court Liaison and coming to me asking how I handle all the people down at court.  Thinking she meant the individuals that Giant Eagle prosecute.  But found out she meant everyone else who was down at court each and every morning.  No one at the courthouse ever showed her the back set of elevators for Judges, Prosecutors, Court Liaisons and LE, so she was using the pubic elevators and every morning at least 10 people would ask her for legal advice.  Obviously, I showed her the back elevators and she never looked back, just continued to grow in Loss Prevention over the years.

fmi ap rising star - Previous winners!

congratulations to the 2021-22 fmi rising star