Gary Vanic Great Lakes Cheese Soaring Eagle awardGary Vanic, president and CEO of Great Lakes Cheese Co., received a Soaring Eagle award from the International Dairy Foods Association for his service to the industry. The Soaring Eagle award recognizes the extraordinary service of leaders in the dairy industry and those who have provided exemplary leadership to IDFA, the International Ice Cream Association, the Milk Industry Foundation and the National Cheese Institute. Vanic received the award at a special ceremony during IDFA’s 2012 Dairy Forum at La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, Calif.

Vanic (pictured with wife Anne)  took over the reins at Great Lakes Cheese Co. in Hiram, Ohio, in 2000 and became increasingly active in NCI and IDFA, holding several leadership positions just a few years later. He served as IDFA chairman from 2009 to 2011 and IDFA vice chairman from 2008 to 2009. He also served as NCI chairman from 2008 to 2009, NCI vice chairman from 2006 to 2008 and NCI treasurer from 2004 to 2006.

Perhaps one of his most important contributions came during his years at the helm of IDFA, when the entire dairy industry was reeling from turbulent economic times.

"I saw Gary go out of his way to gather information from the industry in total to try to get a good picture of the issues we needed to deal with to solve some of the complex pricing issues that are out there today," said Mike Nosewicz, IDFA chairman and vice president, Dairy East, The Kroger Co.

“Having Gary Vanic as chairman for the past two years has been a real treat for me," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "He's been a terrific mentor, he's solid as a rock, he's a good sounding board and he's respected by everybody.”

A video honoring Vanic is available at IDFA's YouTube channel.

Previous recipients of the IDFA Soaring Eagle Award include Robert Allen, Tom Angott, Tom Badciong, Rick Beaman, C.O. "Tex" Beshears, Miriam Erickson Brown, George Cornell, Howard M. Dean, Jim Erickson, Miles Ezell, Lou Gentine, Jim Green, Brian Haugh, Betsy Holden, Larry Jensen, John Jeter, John Kinnett, Jr., Ed Kruse, Paul Kruse, Bill Oldenburg, Delton Parks, Arthur Pappathanasi, Tom Perry, Mike Reidy, Ronald Rice, David Rufenacht, Don Storhoff, Fay Wells and Gary Wells.

SOURCE: International Dairy Foods Association