Another two years, another award. That’s pretty much the situation for those working at the Defense Commissary Agency’s facility at Camp Darby, Italy.

DECA recently announced that the Darby store and the commissary at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, had tied for top honors as best small commissary overseas for 2002.

It marks the fourth time in 10 years that the small store in northwest Italy has received the award.

Store director Giuseppi Ricci said he’s the fourth store manager to lead the store in that period. Livorno also won top honors in 1994, 1998 and 2000.

Ricci, who leads an all-Italian workforce, said the secret “is leadership and flexibility. And working as a team.”

He said the store generally only actively competes every two years.

“I think we’re going to have a break for next year,” he said.

Not that employees won’t be busy. One of the challenges the store faces is that it serves a much larger population every summer.

Darby has only about 300 active-duty servicemembers, split fairly evenly between the Army and Air Force, for most of the year.

But during the summer months, thousands of Americans stationed elsewhere in Europe converge on the base, which has its own beach and campground.

Ricci estimates that business goes up from April to July by at least one-third. He said keeping the store stocked during that period is always a challenge.

Efforts to reach a representative of the Keflavik store was unsuccessful.

The awards are based on visits by evaluation teams, sales, operation accountability and talks with employees and customers.

Other winners announced at a DECA awards baquet in Norfolk, Va., last week were: Yokota Air Base, Japan, for large commissary overseas; Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for large commissary in the States; and Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., for small commissary in the States.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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