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2013 Store Manager Award Finalists


CATEGORY A (1-49 stores)

Kaitlyn Lester, general manager of Lunds in Bloomington, Minnesota, stands out for her ability to manage tasks and lead people. A degree in Food Retail Management sets Kaitlyn apart as she brings a fresh innovative perspective to every aspect of the store – from team meetings to holiday promotions. In three years, Kaitlyn has consistently and dramatically improved both the store’s operation performance targets and overall customer satisfaction. As a leader of people, Kaitlyn contributed to the development of Lunds’ Manager in Training Program and helped design the Mentor/Mentee program. Kaitlyn leads on the assumption that her team wants to perform well and thus focuses on their strengths instead of weaknesses. One of her team’s favorite promotions is the Best Bagger Contest, complete with a professional emcee and theme songs for each contestant. Within the community, Kaitlyn has been recognized as Employer of the Year by Placement Partners MN, Inc., for providing jobs to learning-disabled adults. Lunds has also been nominated multiple times for Best Retail Grocery Food Safety and the Bloomington Health Department repeatedly uses the store for public outreach opportunities.

Maggie McLaughlin has been the store manager of the Roche Bros. store in Wellesley Massachusetts for five years. She began her career with Roche Bros. as an entry-level cashier and received continual promotion due to the urgency, attention and receptiveness with which she handles each situation. Customers in Maggie’s store almost never wait in line; she trains all employees on register so they can assist when needed. Maggie takes great pride in mentoring associates. The last two associates promoted to store manager have been from her store, and one of her department managers was recently promoted to a corporate position as meat merchandiser. A key to Maggie’s leadership style is making sure her associates are knowledgeable on both “the how and why” of the business, empowering employees at every level to make decisions and contributions to better the store. The store has witnessed an upward trend of 2.5 percent in sales over the last year despite new competition in their market. Maggie is an active part of her community and excels at making the community an active part of her store. Over the past year, the store has hosted students from a local acting troupe and a jazz group the local high school to perform for customers. The store also hosted a Party Expo showcasing their catering department as well as local vendors.

Mondella Stacey
is the store manager of Colemans Food Centre in Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada. She was the only store manager selected as one of Canadian Grocer’s 2012 Star Women in Grocery, an honor generally reserved for owners and CEO’s. In 2012, total store sales increased by 10.72 percent, which was 6.05 percent better than budget. Store margins increased by 9.07 percent, fueled by significant increases in grocery, produce and bakery. Mondella has been with the company for 28 years and will occasionally return to her former role behind the lunch counter or cash register. She treasures one-on-one interaction with customers and has a strong commitment to community outreach. Her store hosts a number of in-store events, such as live music and bridal shows. Additionally, the store participates in community initiatives such as Relay for Life and the Community Café, an outreach program where Mondella’s team provides and serves nutritious lunches to the needy. Mondella’s focus on improving both the store’s business and customer relations has made her an aspirational model to Colemans, which is illustrated by a collective desire among board members to “Mondelaize” other managers.

CATEGORY B (50-199 stores)

Joey Aiken, store manager for Brookshire Grocery in Greenville, Texas, is constantly looking for ways to mentor and develop his associates. His 29 years in the grocery business have taught him the value of growing talent from within. Two store directors have been promoted under his guidance in addition to several department heads moving into district supervisory roles. In his town’s larger community, Joey volunteers time, and energy and makes monetary contributions to numerous organizations. In addition, he serves on the board of the Greenville Kiwanis Club and coordinates the annual Spirit of Christmas Food Drive for needy families. Within the store, Joey believes “people first, profits will follow” and this mantra  is notable as his team engages customers by giving cooking tips, learning names and offering numerous samples. In 2012, his store experienced a net profit increase of 17 percent.

Fernando Noriega is store manager for United Supermarkets in Amarillo, Texas. Fernando leads a team of more than 300 associates at one of the highest-volume stores in the chain. His store has been among the top three for United Supermarkets in store profit for the past three years. In 2012, Fernando’s location had a 5.9 percent total profit while store profits increased nearly 19 percent. The store fares equally well in the company’s external metrics; the most recent Guest Satisfaction overall score for Fernando’s store was 9.06 out of 10. Fernando leads his team by example, which is most notable through his community outreach efforts. In the past three years, Fernando’s team has championed corporate fundraisers. A company program that creates in-store teams to participate in community volunteerism named Fernando’s team as the company’s outstanding UCrew in 2012. Fernando’s leadership and mentoring is evident in the promotion and retention of his employees. Four of the past five associates named to General Manager in the company were promoted from within his store.

Arlie Watson, Jr.
is the store manager of the Food City in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Arlie was identified early as a potential manager and graduated from the company’s elite assistant store manager training program. After his promotion to store manager, Arlie managed several stores, assisted in multiple store openings, and has been at his current store for four years. In his current position, Arlie’s leadership and guidance is evident in his store’s excellent employee retention and promotion rate, continually increasing sales and profits, and community recognition.  The Gatlinburg Food City finished 2012 with a net income increase of 15.06 percent and a total gross profit increase of 4.31 percent. During the same year, Arlie’s store received multiple awards from the company’s ECO contest as his store reduced their total kilowatt per hour by an impressive 16.89 percent for the year. Arlie’s store won the People’s Choice Award for Best Bakery and Best Store overall from the local newspaper. Due to the store’s location in a high-traffic tourist town, Arlie must adeptly juggle meeting local needs with fluctuating volume and demands. The store hosts a large number of special events, parties, weddings, and often features sidewalk special cookouts and events to add excitement and tourist traffic.

CATEGORY C (200 or more stores)

Greg Giles has been the store director at BI-LO in Simpsonville, South Carolina, for 15 years. In 2012, Greg saw a seventh straight year of sales growth, up 4 percent, and a 7.25 percent earnings improvement. Greg’s store consistently ranks in the top five stores in sales each week, despite surrounding competition from large national chains and during a major remodel of his store. Greg motivates his team to achieve these outstanding results by sponsoring an internal sales competition each week. In an innovative show of store collaboration, Greg partnered with a local department store to promote and sell floral and bakery items for Valentine’s Day and weddings. Greg is recognized as an outstanding leader both in the store and across the district. He has received the company’s President’s Award for Leadership. He annually serves as an official mentor for less experienced store directors, and when the district director is on vacation, Greg is often asked to supervise the district. Within the community of Simpsonville, Greg’s team continually exceeds all fundraising goals through the BI-LO Charity Classic and has a strong relationship with the Laurens County Food Bank.

Kevin Sherlock, store director at Hy-Vee in Iowa City, Iowa, believes the keys to success are hard work, a clean store, and treating customers and employees equally well. Kevin meets with his team weekly, and one meeting per month is devoted to brainstorming and planning promotions. His store hosts holiday shows, monthly events for children, offsite wine shows and topical promotions, such as voting for a favorite apple during election week.  These promotions always relate back to sales goals and are a large part of his 6.34 percent sales increase and 2 percent net profit increase for 2012.  Kevin’s focus on open communication is both productive and motivational. He convinced all 15 stores in the Cedar Rapids market to create a wine and spirits pricing program that kept everyone competitive and still increased each store’s profits. Within the store, he involves every level of associate on decisions to show team members the impact they have on store operations and how each action can shape and change the company. In addition to the personal relationships Kevin forms with each of his employees, he serves his community as a member of the board of directors at the Salvation Army.

Lucy Wienshienk is store manager at a Fry’s in Phoenix, Arizona, one of the company’s largest and most innovative stores. Since her appointment to store manager in 1996, Lucy managed several Fry’s stores before taking the reins at Fry’s Signature Marketplace Store. Lucy’s desire to surprise and delight customers with great customer service and products they need and want drives innovation in her store. She has implemented new sales generators, such as a classic donut station, caramel apple kiosk and a popcorn kiosk. Her store features a cooking school, bistro, wine bar, juice bar and tortilliaria. In addition to her efforts to offer her customers new experiences, Lucy is a hands-on leader who enjoys mentoring and coaching the store’s associates. Several team members have advanced to management positions within the company with the help of her encouragement and guidance. Lucy was named the company’s 2011 President’s Choice Store Manager and is an active volunteer with the store’s Cultural Council and the Humane Society.

CATEGORY D (International retailers – companies operating outside North America)

Jun Oshima spearheaded monumental changes in his first year at Yaoko Kawagoe Matoba store in Saitama, Japan. He joined the project team nearly a year before the store opening, thus enabling him to architect his vision of a horizontally connected store that would focus on the benefit to the customer, rather than a more traditional aisle layout. Mr. Oshima demonstrates his desire to cater to the customer through his interpretation of company-wide promotions. When the company ran a full-page advertisement to promote “The Great Fish Sale,” Mr. Oshima integrated the idea into every department in his store, creating displays, product placements and meal suggestions. The Yaoko Kawagoe Matoba store is already recording significantly higher performances than projected, thanks to Mr. Oshima’s focus on generating sales and profit. The store is projected to impressively exceed its anticipated first-year sales.