Portrait of a Great Company: Wegmens Food Markets

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On February 28, 2012

When you think about a great company these days it’s easy to focus on companies in the high-tech arena or someone manufacturing something flashy and shiny. Who would think of a supermarket as a great company?

Apparently Fortune magazine thinks that at least one supermarket qualifies for that distinction. It’s why they recently named Wegmens Food Markets as one of “Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.” And Wegmens didn’t exactly sneak into the rankings. They came in at number four!

So what makes Wegmens so great?

For one thing, Wegmens takes care of its employees. The family-owned grocery chain has made employee health almost a religion. More than 2,000 of their employees have enrolled in a free smoking-cessation program since 2009. And this year they opened a new 24/7 health hotline. One employee recently summed up some of the reasons it’s a great place to work:

I do love working at Wegmans. The company is great. They care about employees & customers too. They listen to what we have to say & suggestions often are implemented. Colleagues are considerate & pleasant to work with. They are flexible with schedules at they realize that you have a life outside of work – this is a biggie!

Here’s how Wegmens explains what they are all about:
• We care about the well-being and success of every person.
• High standards are a way of life. We pursue excellence in everything we do.
• We make a difference in every community we serve.
• We respect and listen to our people.
• We empower our people to make decisions that improve their work and benefit our customers and our company.

Wegmens isn’t just focused on their employees, however. They’re also committed to delivering a great product—and one that’s unique in the marketplace. How do they distinguish themselves from competitors?

  • They’re more like a European open-air market, with dazzling displays of fresh produce, artisan breads and other baked goods hot from the oven several times a day. Displays of fresh-caught seafood, meat, deli products and imported cheeses, international foods—plus all the groceries and household items usually found in supermarkets
  • They offer more choice than other supermarket chains with more than 70,000 products, compared to an average of just over 40,000 (according to the Food Marketing Institute) in most supermarkets. For example, Wegmans usually stocks 300 specialty cheeses.They are larger than most supermarkets because they carry so much more. Their stores run 80,000 to 140,000 square feet in size with unusually spacious aisles.
  • Wegmans offers more customer convenience services and “stores within a store” than any other supermarket chain.

What’s the take-away for you? What can you do to be a great company? You can start by focusing on two things: Making sure you care about the well-being and success of every employee, and giving your customers something they can’t find anywhere else.