'The Soul of Nice N Easy'
Industry leaders, co-workers pay tribute to John MacDougall
"John's response to hard winters, Native American tax advantages, lower population and smaller traffic counts was to produce a superior food and service offer," said Bill Douglass, founder of Douglass Distributing, Sherman, Texas. "That is the essence of a great retailer."
"It takes a special kind of guy to take the risk, and he was that guy," said Jack Cushman, executive vice president of foodservice for Nice N Easy. "You can have all the PhDs in the world, but it doesn't mean anything--you need to have someone to stick their neck out and take a risk.
Cushman joined Nice N Easy in 1999, and he has worked with many of the same people for the past 15 years. That's not typical, he said.
"He kept everybody together," Cushman said of MacDougall. "He kept everyone focused and moving things forward. To work so closely with him was incredibly rewarding to me. You just don't get that at other jobs. He was kind of like a football coach: He put the right people in the right place to make the magic happen. That was his strength."
For now, Duskiewicz is handling day-to-day operations of the company, as he has been since the beginning of the year, when MacDougall's health began to fail.
"Since New Year's Eve, we have become a much tighter group, a much more supportive group to each other, all of which made John very proud," Duskiewicz said.
A memorial service will be held in Cleveland this week, and the company also is planning a service closer to Nice N Easy headquarters. It may take a big venue, Duskiewicz said: "He had a pretty big fan club!"
"John was just an authentic human being," said Jeff Miller, president of Miller Oil Co., Norfolk, Va. "He was easy to talk with, had a genuine sense of caring, had a keen business sense, and folks were better off for having encountered him."
Douglass concurred: "John was a prince of a man who seemed to enjoy life and everyone's company."
"He was a pretty fearless guy," Cushman said. "He did what he wanted to do."