Category C: (200+ Stores), Featured Manager, Finalist, SMA

Joel White

The Kroger Co. (King Soopers-City Market)
Gunnison, CO

Some store managers talk about mountains they have to climb to reach goals.  While those are hypothetical, Joel White contends with a real mountain that poses both challenges and benefits at the King Soopers City Market he leads in Gunnison, CO.

For example, its location in an area that is rural and considered a tourist town means that business is seasonal. To motivate associates and let them know they are appreciated as they work through the busy time of year in the summer, White created “survival” bags for staffers filled with snacks and treats.

White understands the importance of connecting with department leads on a daily basis to review results, goals and other important information. He also encourages feedback and models an modern approach to leadership.

White also maintains strong community ties, as his store is a hub in a town that is decidedly quieter in the off season. The location takes part in several local events, including holiday celebrations and fishing derbies, and also donates food and water to those in need. Last year, the Gunnison City Market donated more than 2,000 pounds of fresh and shelf-stable food every month.

White’s total-store alignment spurs a welcome and consistent shopping experience for customers, whether they are coming in just once on vacation or are regular shoppers.

White has accomplished many of his goals without the aid of an assistant store leader and in a small-format location that has six registers and spans 38,000 square feet. His leadership was evident from outstanding results of an employee sentiment survey.

He is keen on cultivating others, recently mentoring four managers who have gone into different leadership roles within the store and district. White’s team members report that he regularly asks them what they want to be known for and encourages them to ask what they can do for others. One might say that he moves mountains to help his store and his mentees succeed.

“Joel has a passion for results that he blends effortlessly with his passion for people, ultimately allowing him to drive significant financial results.”