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The Winning Company

January 14, 2013

With employee-owned companies getting employees to have a sense of ownership is quite easy since obviously they own the company. It’s truly different when you have a stake in the company that you work for. There is more concern and actual actions directed to making the company grow.

One successful company that is employee-owned is Winco Foods. Winco actually stands for “winning company” which tells you the kind of attitude and optimism management and employees have with their firm.

This company did not start out as employee-owned. Ralph Ward and Bud Williams founded a discount warehouse grocery store in 1967 named Waremart in Boise, Idaho.  Then in 1985 an employee stock ownership plan (the Winco Foods Employee Stock Ownership Trust) bought a majority interest of Waremart from the Ward family. This initiative was headed by Bill Long who was then president and had the full backing of store management and employees.  The employees of Waremart now had an ownership stake in the company.

In January 1991 Waremart launched an 82,000 square-foot store in Boise and subsequently closed its two older Boise stores. This new store was then the largest supermarket ever opened in the state of Idaho. Waremart was then running 16 stores in the Northwest and has annual revenues of $300 million. The company continued its impressive growth and by 2000 had replaced most of its retail stores with modern and expanded facilities.

The enterprise had operated under the name Waremart Food Centers and Cub Foods.  Then in 1999 the name was changed to Winco when the company noticed that customers were getting confused with other large “mart” stores like Wal-Mart and Kmart.

Winco is known for its very large stores with a huge offering of national brands at low prices. In 1998 the company opened a 900,000 square foot grocery and perishable distribution center in Woodburn, Oregon. It also opened a 110,000 square food health and beauty, gourmet and non-food distribution center in Myrtle Creek, Oregon. Winco opened an over 700,000 square foot grocery and perishable distribution center in Modesto, California. It continues to open new stores.

The “winning company” currently has 86 stores in seven Western states and has more than 14,200 employees.  Winco had revenues of $4.73 billion in 2011.


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