GRAND FORKS-The president and CEO of Hugo's has received national recognition for her role leading the regional grocery chain.
Kristi Magnuson Nelson was named woman of the year by the Women Grocers of America at a meeting of the National Grocers Association this month in Las Vegas.
Hugo's employs about 1,400 workers at stores in Grand Forks, Grafton and Jamestown in North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Crookston, Thief River Falls and Park Rapids in Minnesota.
"This is big," said Hugo's Human Resources Jeff Westrem. "We're very proud of her and we believe she's very deserving of a prestigious award like this."
In a news release, the industry group cited Magnuson Nelson's role in expanding her company's stores to 10 in seven cities and adding liquor stores to five of its locations.
"Her vision and leadership have been an integral part of the success of Hugo's Family Marketplace, and she is a steadfast champion for the independent supermarket industry," said NGA President Peter Larkin in the press release.
Magnuson Nelson is the third generation of her family to lead the grocery chain founded by her grandparents, Hugo and Dorothy Magnuson, in 1939. She became president in 2007, taking on the role after her father, Curt Magnuson, died.
In a 2017 profile, Magnuson Nelson recalled growing up in the family store, playing with her siblings in her grandfather's office and helping her grandmother and great aunt sort coupons. Like many in the Grand Forks area, her childhood job was bagging groceries at the store.
"It's just a feeling of family," she said. "My family and everyone who works in our stores are your neighbors and friends."
Under Magnuson Nelson's leadership, Hugo's has expanded to Grafton, N.D., and Park Rapids, Minn., launched its liquor business, announced plans to add a new Grand Forks location and incorporated Caribou Coffee locations at seven stores.
Westrem credited Magnuson Nelson for creating opportunities for employees to move into leadership roles and making Hugo's an attractive workplace.
"We have a lot of people who have worked at Hugo's for a long time, and that's a testament to her and her family," said Westrem, who has worked with the store for 41 years.
Magnuson Nelson has previously received the NGA Spirit of America Award and the North Dakota Grocer of the Year honor.