(West Bloomfield, MI May 2020) – After 10 years serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Midwest Independent Retailers Association (MIRA), Auday Arabo is leaving the association as he accepts the position of President and CEO of Benchmark Beverage Company which was acquired by LKI, a Lipari Family owned investment company.
Arabo left San Diego, California in 2008 to take the position as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) which he served for a year and a half before becoming the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2010. He was the former President and CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association in California before he moved to Michigan.
“I am leaving MIRA proud of our accomplishments over the last 10 years,” said Arabo. “Looking back at our 110 history, these last ten years were the best the association has ever had when we measure membership growth, growth in geography, financially which includes ownership of our building, profitable budgets 10 years straight as well for the future of MIRA with the creation and sale of Benchmark Beverage Company. The deal was negotiated with MIRA retaining 10 percent ownership of stock in Benchmark Beverage Company which will greatly benefit them in the future.”
Arabo, along with four others created Benchmark Beverage Company, a distribution company focusing on specialty liquor and smaller brands and then sold it to MIRA. Within four years, the company has been growing at a rapid rate. “We originally sold the business to MIRA and MIRA has now sold it to LKI in order to take it to the next level,” said Arabo. “Part of the sale agreement was that I would take over as President & CEO of Benchmark Beverage Company working with LKI. I love to build businesses and love the challenges and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my career.”
Meanwhile, Ed Weglarz has spent his entire career in the petroleum and convenience store industry. Prior to taking his position with MIRA in 2006 as Director of Petroleum, Weglarz served as the president of the Great Lakes Petroleum Retailers Association and before that was the Executive Director of the Service Station Dealers Association (SSDA).
“Auday accomplished a lot at MIRA and is leaving the association in great shape, providing a springboard for us to expand and grow”, said Weglarz. “His even-tempered approach to challenges has earned him the respect of the staff, Board members, MIRA members, suppliers, regulators, department heads, and political leaders in three states”. “Auday lives and promotes the mantra: ‘When in doubt; just tell the truth!’, and he encouraged the MIRA staff to abide by that philosophy”, said Weglarz. “He taught me patience and compassion and it was an honor to work with him; he will bring those same talents to his new position and I know he’ll exceed expectations in his new adventure”.
Weglarz is a native of Chicago’s South Side, where he grew up and attended school at Illinois Tech in the shadow of what was then known as Comiskey Park. Ed and his wife, Merriam live in Livonia, Michigan and have two married sons and four grandchildren. Ed’s favorite activity is following professional motor racing events.
“Ed was at the association when I arrived and we have worked side-by-side for nearly 12 years in implementing programs and growing the association,” said Arabo. “He has been a tremendous co-pilot and will do a great job leading the association as President and CEO.”
Auday is leaving with many memories. “We have experienced great memories with our successes in Lansing, Columbus and Illinois and membership growth and we have experienced tragedy with the murder of our former co-chair Fred Dally as well,” said Arabo. “The late Kobe Bryant reminded us that it’s not about the destination, but the journey, the everyday grind.” Those are the memories I will forever cherish.
MIRA was first formed in 1910 as the Meat Cutters Association. Today, the association represents more than 4,000 independent retailers in the Midwest including Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. www.miramw.org
ABOUT Benchmark Beverage
Benchmark Beverage Company is owned by LKI, a Lipari Family owned investment company that was created on the idea that every brand has a unique story to tell. They specialize in building new and mid-tier supplier brands from the United States and all over the world. Benchmark Beverage Company has also built a reputation on turning around failing brands in a short period of time. The focus to detail and fulfilling the special needs of each supplier we represent is what sets us apart from the rest of the industry. The company motto “Liquid to Lips” is what we live by and one of the major factors we take into consideration before we agree to partner with a supplier.
Media Contact: Vanessa Denha Garmo firstname.lastname@example.org