Category B: (26-199 Stores), Finalist, SMA

Patty Kuehn

Omaha, NE

You might say that Patty Kuehn has a competitive advantage as a store director at a Midwest SpartanNash location. To start with, she joined the retailer from a competitor store in her market. Once established, she drew talented former co-workers to her new company because they enjoyed working with her so much in the past.

Her diligence and innate competitive spirit have led to success for her store and for her. Kuehn was promoted to store director, while her location experienced overall sales lifts of mid-single digits with gains across every fresh department. Moreover, she led accomplishments even as the marketplace was affected by external circumstances like inflation and as her particular site was impacted by a major road construction that could have impeded store traffic.

Her winning combination of passion and an expansive knowledge base has not gone unnoticed by the parent company. Kuehn was chosen as one of only 25 SpartanNash associates to take part in the organization’s leadership development program.

She finished that one-year program, which included leadership mentor meetings, professional development and e-learning courses, fired-up to take her store to an even higher level. Accordingly, that location has not recorded any safety incidents over 74,000 logged hours of work, while seven associates there have been elevated to new positions.

Team members also recognize her strengths as a leader, as her store turnover is projected to be under the company goal by double digits. Described as an active listener, she is credited with taking time to invest in her store’s associates and encourages members to regularly congratulate one another on a job well done.

Another testament to her pursuit of excellence is her willingness to dive right in and help out her team and departments. She helped introduce fresh-cut fruits in the produce department and challenged her team to take ownership of the program, moves that spurred a 25% sales increase. She also gets personally involved with fun in-store promotions, like live lobster events and sales contests.

One can spot Kuehn at community events throughout the year, where she leads by example to support a host of good causes. Her consideration of others is reflected in her partnership with the local fire department to provide them with access to the Fast Lane program for quick and easy shopping. This store also sponsors several sports programs at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and provides donut prizes for elementary school students of the month, a donation that again underlines the ways she brings out the best through a bit of healthy competition.

“By working tirelessly to coach and uplift her associates, Patty has created a store where everyone wants to do winning work.”