Hugh "Rusty" Rollins
Store Manager, Food City, Athens, Tenn.
K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc.
What’s in a name? Plenty, when you’re Hugh “Rusty” Rollins, manager of a Food City store in Athens, Tennessee.
This is a store manager who knows most of his customers by name after working for the company for nearly 40 years. In turn, his nominators say, almost everyone in the community knows Rollins.
And to know him is to like him. One customer commented in a recent survey put it this way: “Hang on to him. He’s the real deal and a local boy.”
The store’s scores confirm the likeability of the manager and his operation. The Athens location ranked No. 1 in the district in terms of quarterly survey results, with a whopping 106% satisfaction rating for the customer service matrix. Likewise, the mystery shopper scores are at the top of the organization's district. Recently, Rollins received the 2020 Jack C. Smith Store Manager of the Year Award, the company’s highest customer service recognition.
To say he’s a hands-on leader might be putting it mildly. One might find Rollins sweeping floors, bagging groceries, making candy in the deal or tweaking one of the displays in which he takes great pride. He meets daily with his department heads and management team and, together, they conduct daily huddles with store associates to energize them and reinforce the goal of a great shopping experience for every customer. He recaps sales and labor results and department expenses with key team members at least once a week, working closely with them to make any needed adjustments.
Rollins throws pizza parties and cookouts for team members to recognize and reward hard work, but his mentorship goes well beyond that. Several of his associates have advanced to senior leadership positions throughout the store and company.
Rollins has improved the business’s bottom line, too. The store has enjoyed continual sale increases over the past several years, with a banner 2020 that included a total sales lift (without fuel) of 50.2% and net profit increase of $1.5 million. He surpassed his sales goals in all departments last year while reducing labor, shrink, store expenses and turnover.
Beyond the store, his rather iconic status in the community continues. Rollins is a board member of the Main Street for Athens group, a member of the local Kiwanis Club and a fixture in a variety of community events and charity projects, both as a committed citizen and local business leader. He has made a name for himself, but it’s largely in serving others.
“Rusty is viewed as a tremendous role model and mentor. His love of people has earned him the reputation of a caring and supportive leader throughout the company and his community.”
--Nominator Tammy L. Baumgardner, senior manager of public relations. K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc., Food City
From June 7 – 11, 2021, FMI will host our People’s Pick category, where we ask the public to vote for their favorite Store Manager Awards finalist.