New Orleans -- Ace Hardware CEO Ray Griffith, who will step down as CEO in late March, gave his last general session talk to the collected membership of the co-op.
"I've enjoyed the privilege of working with all of you and helping entrepreneurs achieve success and wealth," Griffith added. "How cool is that … to work for a meaningful company with an honorable purpose?"
As previously announced, John Venhuizen -- a 20-year veteran of Ace -- will replace Griffith as CEO at the end of March.
Griffith was CEO of Ace for eight years, and his Ace career has 19 years.
Griffith was introduced to the stage by Ace Hardware chairman Dave Ziegler, who presented Griffith with the inaugural "Ray Griffith Leadership Award." The award was created to recognize "outstanding commitment," "unquestionable integrity" and "passion" for the business.
Upon accepting the award, Griffith -- who received two standing ovations during his presentation -- joked: "I wish I was half this good."
Venhuizen, currently president and COO of Ace, said: "I don't plan to fill Ray's shoes. Those are shoes you don't fill."