By Matt Taylor Contributing Writer
Northborough – It has been nearly 100 years since John and Walter Wegman opened the Rochester Fruit and Vegetable Company. Today, Wegmans Food Markets has 77 locations across five states employing over 41,000 people. This major regional supermarket chain has appeared on Fortune magazine's list of “100 Best Companies to Work for” 14 years running, including the top spot on that list in 2005, and number three this year. With over $5.6 billion in sales in 2010, Wegmans ranked number 55 on Forbes list of Largest Private U.S. Companies. However, Wegmans is about more than just numbers and awards. The company models its stores after large open-air European markets with spectacular displays and dizzying arrays of prepared foods, fresh produce, succulent seafood, artisan breads and cheeses, delicious deli meats, international foods, and all the staples you can find in supermarkets across the country.
This fall Wegmans will open its first New England location at Northborough Crossing in Northborough; it's currently slated for Sunday, Oct. 16. The 145,000-square-foot supermarket at the intersection of routes 9 and 20 will create 550 local jobs in addition to establishing numerous relationships and opportunities for local farms and growers.
Wegmans Director of Media Relations Jo Natale believes that Northborough is the perfect location for their latest market.
“We look at three different factors in determining a location for a new store,” Natale said. “The site should be large, roughly 15 to 18 acres in size, it must be easy to get to, and it must be located in an area with a large or growing population. All of this came together in the Northborough location.”
Location is of the utmost importance because many Wegmans customers travel between 25 and 50 miles each way to visit a store. Northborough Crossing will also feature a Kohls and Toys R Us.
What separates Wegmans from the competition?
“Our service,” Natale said. “That's our number one priority. We have restaurant-quality food, endless choices, and more customer conveniences than most markets, but it's the service we offer customers that sets us apart.”
The Wegman family has operated the company for nearly a century under the philosophy that all employees work toward a common goal of providing superior customer service, and that in order to accomplish that goal the needs of employees must be fulfilled. To satisfy the needs of employees, Wegmans offers a wide variety of benefits including healthcare, dental, retirement savings plan, employee discounts, life insurance and adoption assistance.
One of the benefits Wegmans offers that similar businesses do not is the Wegmans's Employee Scholarship Program. Over 27 years the company has awarded over $75 million to more than 24,000 employees. Wegmans does not limit the number of scholarships each year, there are no restrictions on the students” course of study, and students can pursue careers in any field they choose upon graduation.
To receive a scholarship, employees must meet certain academic criteria and attain work performance goals explained Wegmans President Colleen Wegman.
“Nothing is more gratifying than seeing our employees achieve their dreams, and knowing that our scholarship program is one of the reasons,” Colleen said.
In addition to creating jobs and providing opportunities for local farms, the Northborough area should benefit from Wegmans's commitment to community service as well. Food for the needy, healthy eating, strengthening neighborhoods, and funding of causes supported by the United Way are just a few of the initiatives Wegmans supports. The company has received numerous awards for community service, including the 2006 Corporate Business Recognition Award for employing people with disabilities from the New York State Rehabilitation Association.
Pizza, sushi, salads, oldfashioned submarines and wraps are just a few of the fresh, high quality items sold at prices that even a college student can afford. Metrowest consumers will like the choices Wegmans offers, and in particular, its focus on using local vendors.
Wegmans is now accepting applications for employment at the Northborough location. All applications must be submitted online at www.wegmans.com.