Weis Manager Head Shot Rob Santoni

Category B: (26-199 Stores), Finalist

Robert Santoni

Weis Markets, Inc.
Nottingtham, MD

You might say that Robert “Rob” Santoni is as good of a neighbor as he is a grocery manager.  When a nearby independent store shuttered, he didn’t see the closing as the end of a competitor as much as a chance to support a fellow grocer and the community they both served.

In January 2021, Santoni reached out to the owner of the soon-to-close Bel Garden Bi-Rite, asking if his team could interview the store’s employees because they would be losing their jobs. Given his past experience at an independent grocer that went out of business, he understood how those associates might appreciate the employment opportunity. In time, 30% of that store’s workers joined Weis Markets.

That wasn’t his only gesture of goodwill. He asked for the recipe of a popular sub sandwich sold at the Bi-Rite, renaming it the Bel Garden Sub. Today, his store sells 600 of those sandwiches a week, and the item has been picked up across the Weis Markets chain to generate $1.5 million in sales in 2021. In addition, he partnered with merchants to find and sell Bi-Rite items that his location didn’t previously offer, successfully adding a range of items that went on to spur more than $4 million in new sales for Weis Markets.

Closer to home, Santoni has continually guided his store to double-digit sales growth since he joined the location. Store sales jumped 13.59% in 2021 following a 24% climb in 2020. Thanks to his emphasis on shrink control and inventory turns, his store produced double-digit gross profit growth over the past year. Also during his era, the store's net income increased 528% in 2020 and 38.5% in 2021.  

In addition to helping bolster sales and profits, he sets a standard of excellence by serving as a district trainer for new store manager hires in greater Baltimore. Although he clearly has people skills, based on his regular huddles and outreach, he is not a micromanager within his store. Santoni’s philosophy is to give his team direction and let them do their jobs and develop while he focuses on the overall management of his location.

Santoni heads up all of the district’s customer satisfaction contests, too, and implements Weis Markets’ community engagement initiatives throughout the metro area. For those efforts, he won the Citizen of the Year Award from the Baltimore County Student Support Network in 2020, Maryland Department of Occupational Rehabilitation Employer Award 2021 and the Weis Markets Corporate Citizenship Award in 2020, again showing the importance of being a good neighbor.

“Rob also focuses on supporting part-time hourly associates, particularly high school students. He enjoys helping them learn and develop. He wants them to learn from their first jobs.”