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Happy Employees

December 24, 2012

Most businesses focus on having happy customers. For Wegmans it focuses on having contented and well trained employees who in turn make the customers happy. It pays to have happy employees it has a loyal base of customers that keep this privately held company profitable.

While it cannot be said that salaries are very generous, they are good. The company gives a good amount of training for its employees.  Cashiers are no allowed to interact with customers until they have finished 40 hours of training. Wegmans has no mandatory age requirements and has never laid off workers.  Wegmans sends butchers to Colorado, Argentina, and Uruguay to learn about beef. To learn about cheese it sends deli managers to Wisconsin, France, Germany and Italy.

Wegmans also spends millions of dollars a year to send employees to college.  Since the Wegmans Scholarship Program started in 1984 it has awarded over $85 million to more than 26,000 employees. Around 4,000 employees have active scholarships every year while they attend universities and colleges across the country.

With this kind of support employees enthusiastically attend to clients who in turn like the overall shopping experience at Wegmans stores.  Given the cost for employees though, the store makes up by having greater profits through high volume. Its stores are huge, roughly twice the size of the traditional supermarket at 80,000 to 120,000 square feet.  The range of products available in these stores which is around 70,000 is nearly twice that of a standard grocery store.

Company executives say they can run the chain of grocery stores this way since it is a private company.  They are not pressured to produce results on a quarterly basis like in publicly traded companies. Wegmans was founded in 1916 by John Wegmans in Rochester, New York and was then known as the Rochester Fruit & Vegetable Company.

Today Wegmans has 81 stores: 46 in New York State, 15 in Pennsylvania, 7 in New Jersey, 6 in Virginia, 6 in Maryland, and 1 in Massachusetts.  It has more than 44,000 employees and had annual sales of $6.2 billion in 2011. Not bad for a company which focuses on having well trained happy employees.

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