Sparrow Inducted Into AWMA Hall of Fame

First woman to receive wholesale marketer group's honor

Published in CSP Daily News

John Burklund, Kathy Sparrow

PHOENIX -- The American Wholesale Marketer's Association inducted Kathy Sparrow, senior vice president of sales for Lorillard Tobacco Co., into the AWMA Hall of Fame during an awards ceremony held in Phoenix earlier this month. The group recognized her--the first woman to be inducted into the AWMA Hall of Fame--for her long and dedicated service to the industry and to the association.

And as previously reported in CSP Daily News, the AWMA also inducted Eric Atkinson, president of Atkinson Candy Co., Lufkin, Texas, into the Hall of Fame for 2013.

Jon Burklund, president and chief operating officer of Burklund Distributors Inc., East Peoria, Ill., presented the award to Sparrow, "She is the perfect trailblazer," said Burklund, who said Sparrow has "stick-to-a-tivity," and when she says she will do something, she will do it. "If there is a problem or an issue, she deals with it promptly and doesn't quit until it's solved to everyone's satisfaction," he added. "Most of all she listens."

Burklund emphasized Sparrow's commit to Lorillard's customers. "She truly believes that if they don't succeed, Lorillard doesn't succeed," he said. "It's a philosophy she instills in her staff. Those of us who have dealt with Kathy can attest that she and her company are the easiest vendors to deal with."

Noting that Sparrow has always strongly supported AWMA and other industry groups, he said she and her team could always be relied upon to be active participants in AWMA events and provide whatever support they can.

He also pointed out Sparrow's competitiveness--especially on the golf course. "Raise your hand if you've ever gotten a gimme or do-over from Kathy. No? I didn't think so. Don't take it personally. She'd never take one herself."

Sparrow also expressed appreciation for being honored and noted many changes in the industry in her 34 years at Lorillard. "What hasn't changed," she said, is the willingness and desire of manufacturers and distributors to work together on common issues that at various times threaten our very livelihood."

She thanked her company, too, for giving her the opportunity to grow within the industry. "At Lorillard there is a culture of employee value and individual contribution," she said. "Employees develop a sense of responsibility of looking out for the company's interests and for one another."

Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard Inc., through its Lorillard Tobacco subsidiary, is the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the United States. Newport, Lorillard's flagship premium cigarette brand, is the top-selling menthol and second largest selling cigarette in the U.S. In addition to Newport, the Lorillard product line has four additional cigarette brand families marketed under the Kent, True, Maverick and Old Gold brand names. These five brands include 41 different product offerings which vary in price, taste, flavor, length and packaging. Lorillard also markets electronic cigarettes in the in the United States under the blu eCigs brand.