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ROCHESTER, N.Y -- Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. earned the top spot on Fortune
magazine's annual list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For".
It marks the eighth time the 67-store, family-held chain has been so honored by the
business magazine. It also named Wegmans to its Hall of Fame, as one of 22 companies
that have been on the list since its inception.
"Supermarkets aren't often thought of as desirable employers, what with low pay,
grueling hours, annual turnover rates that can approach 100% for part-timers, and labor
unrest such as last year's strike in California," the magazine's editors said in an
introductory commentary leading into a description of how Wegmans -- along with the
three other grocers on the list, Stew Leonard's, Whole Foods, and Publix -- "does things
differently, including the way it deals with employees. The company has proved adept at
battling the intractable problem facing grocery stores in this country -- that there's no
compelling reason to shop there anymore."
Robert Wegman, chairman of the supermarket chain started by his father and uncle in
1916, said in a statement that the recognition, "Is the culmination of my whole life's work.
When I became president of our company in 1950, after working in our stores for a
number of years, I was determined to make it a great place to work." His first step, he
noted, was to raise all salaries, and within a couple of years, implement fully paid health
Later, the company added a defined contribution retirement plan, a 401K plan and an
employee scholarship program, which has given nearly $54 million in tuition assistance to
17,000 employees since it began in 1984.
"No matter how much we invest in our people, we get much more in return," said
Wegman. "When I visit our stores, customers stop me and say, 'Mr. Wegman you have a
great store, but wow, your people are wonderful."
"We have tried to create an environment where our people's ideas are listened to," said
Danny Wegman, the president and chairman’s son, "and where they feel empowered to
make decisions that impact their work."
To celebrate its #1 ranking, Wegmans stores will serve cake to customers and employees
on Saturday Jan. 22, at a time to be determined by each store.
Wegmans operates stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia. In
February, the company will open its second Virginia store in Fairfax, followed later this
year by their first Maryland store in Hunt Valley.
Other food companies in the Fortune ranking include: J.M. Smucker (6); Starbucks (11);
QuikTrip (19); Stew Leonard's (29); Whole Foods (30); P&G (66); and Publix (94).