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Category A: (1-25 Stores), Featured Manager, Finalist

Katie Swenson

Lund Food Holdings, Inc.
Minneapolis, Minn.

As her employees and customers navigated unchartered territory this past year, Katie Swenson not only provided the map and guidance for safe passage but discovered new treasure along the way.

As a result of her efforts, the store received a cleanliness score of 76% in a customer survey, up three percent from the previous -- and far less eventful -- year. Scores for friendliness of staff also rose amid the pandemic, as did the ratings for likelihood to recommend the store to others, likelihood to return to the store and speed of checkout.

As Swenson and her team grappled with a local epidemic, they also found themselves at the epicenter of civil unrest in Minneapolis. The tumultuous events of the summer of 2020 pushed the store into another unknown area with a need for direction and steady navigation. Again, Swenson combined her concern for others with a steadfast approach. She executed a series of “Listening Sessions,” in which employees were encouraged to discuss topics ranging from diversity, equity and inclusion to police presence in the store. Her goal was to listen to employees, understand their perspective and act on their needs.

Swenson’s efforts during a decidedly rough patch did not go unnoticed. In January 2021, a generous customer dropped off a card with a $50 for every employee to express thanks for their essential work. Also this year, Swenson was named a Brand Champion, a coveted company award voted on by employees.

As a result of her management, the Northeast Minneapolis store posted a strong 70% overall satisfaction store among customers. Her sales for fiscal 2020 were above plan by 3.6% with a gross after payroll 10.5% above plan.

“Swenson is one of those managers who is always visible and always asking if we need help. She is always willing to step in and work right alongside you with an upbeat attitude. She is one of the best general managers I’ve worked for in my entire 34 years with the company.” --Team member, Northeast Minneapolis, Lunds & Byerlys