SEC Store Tour: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Gelson’s Markets in West LA

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On January 30, CGA’s Supplier Executive Council (SEC) had the privilege of gaining an exclusive look into strategic vision behind the latest Gelson’s Markets location in West LA. Hosted by the Gelson’s executives, such as John Bagan, Paul Kneeland, Tim Mahoney, and Rich Gillmore, this behind-the-scenes tour offered invaluable insights into the operations and innovation driving one of the region’s premier grocery chains.

The tour offered participating grocery suppliers and inside view into the culinary innovation that Gelson’s is leaning on to set its new stores apart. From farm-fresh produce to gourmet prepared foods, attendees witnessed firsthand the dedication to quality and variety that defines the Gelson’s experience. Each department showcased meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to sourcing the finest ingredients.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to our hosts John Bagan, Paul Kneeland, Tim Mahoney, and Rich Gillmore for graciously sharing their expertise and hospitality during the SEC tour. Their passion for excellence and dedication to enriching the grocery industry left a lasting impression on all attendees.

Join the SEC

For those interested in joining the Supplier Executive Council and gaining access to exclusive events and networking opportunities like this, we encourage you to reach out to Sunny Porter at [email protected]. Membership in the SEC offers a unique chance to connect with industry leaders, stay abreast of the latest trends, and contribute to shaping the future of grocery retail.

Training

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Tips for Store Leaders by Stan Phelps

Invest in employee development through training programs to enhance their skills and show you value their growth.

Wegman’s, the grocery store chain that started in upstate New York, offers employees two to three times more training than other grocery stores. In turn, turnover at the chain is only seven percent compared to 19 percent industry-wide.

Tip: Provide regular opportunities for learning and growth to nurture a motivated and capable workforce.

Empowerment

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Tips for Store Leaders by Stan Phelps

Empower your team by granting them decision-making authority. When employees have ownership, they contribute innovative ideas and take pride in their work.

Command and Control or Carrot and Stick thinking is outdated. Employees do not enjoy or appreciate being controlled or coerced.

The best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context rather than by trying to control their people.

According to Ken and Scott Blanchard, “We are finding that giving people a chance to succeed in their job and setting them free to a certain degree is the key to motivation, as opposed to trying to direct and control people’s energy. It’s really about letting go and connecting people to their work—and each other—rather than channeling, organizing, orchestrating, and focusing behavior.”

Tip: Encourage employees to take initiative and trust their judgment.

Transparency

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Tips for Store Leaders

Foster trust by openly sharing company updates and decisions with employees.

Informed employees are more engaged and committed to store goals.

Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies touched on trust in his bestselling book, Employees First, Customers Second. In the book, he outlined three ways that transparency builds trust:

  1. Transparency ensures that every stakeholder knows the company’s vision and understands how their contribution assists the organization in achieving its goals. Working in an environment without transparency is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the finished picture is supposed to look like.
  2. It ensures that every stakeholder has a deep personal commitment to the aims of the organization.
  3. Gen Y expects transparency as a given. They post their life stories in public domains; they expect nothing less in their workplaces.

Tip: Holds monthly business update meetings. Share financials with all employees in the spirit of transparency. Prioritize transparent communication to build a cohesive and trusting work environment.

Stan Phelps: On Recognition

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Tips for Store Leaders

1. Recognition
Want to boost employee morale? Do it by celebrating small achievements with a heartfelt “thank you” note or public acknowledgment.

TAKE NOTE: THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE

A research study confirmed that the cost of recognition awards has only minimal impact on employee perception of appreciation. Fifty-seven percent reported that the most meaningful recognition was free. Just look at some of these quotes to judge the impact:

“I received a handwritten thank you in the mail from my manager. I smiled like an idiot.” – Bill A.

Tip: Regularly recognize your team’s efforts to show appreciation for their hard work and dedication.

SB 1013 Information Hub

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SB 1013: What you Need to Know

When Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 1013 (D-Atkins) into law, it marked the most significant update to the state’s “Bottle Bill” in decades.

As a result, there is a transition timeline in place, and a road away from the expensive in lieu fees many grocers were forced to pay when the industry became recyclers of last resort and the recycling market collapsed. Moving forward, the industry should be preparing for a significant re-tooling of its recycling strategies and responsibilities.

CGA continues to meet frequently with CalRecycle, and its director, Rachel Wagoner, with whom the Association maintains a productive relationship. The Association is also actively involved in creating dealer cooperative options for grocers. We thank you for your partnership in creating a new recycling system that better serves both the grocery community and its customers.

To help members navigate the challenges ahead, CGA has created a members-only portal where stakeholders can access essential information in one easy location. Click the button below for access.

SoCal Grocery Community Gathers for Food Industry Economic Forecast

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First-Ever Food Industry Economic Forecast

As the direction of the economy — everything from interest rates and real estate to inflation — continues to garner headlines, it felt like an apt time to gather Southern California’s grocery community for a mid-summer check-in. The first-ever California Grocers Association Food Industry Economic Forecast took place at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles and brought together industry leaders to zero in on macroeconomic factors, such as the supply chain, labor pool, consumer financial health, and opportunities in technology.

In collaboration with The Illuminators, the Food Industry Economic Forecast also served as the front-end of CGA’s strategic planning meeting, which took place the following day and aimed to inspire the organization’s agenda for the next handful of years.

The forecast event paired presentations from Dr. Chris Thornberg and John S. Phillips. Thornberg is the founder of Beacon Economics, a research company which consults with private industry, cities, counties, and public agencies to create economic studies. Phillips is the SVP of Customer Supply Chain and Go-to-Market at PepsiCo.

The PepsiCo executive kicked off the event with an hourlong report on the supply chain and innovation opportunities in the food and beverage industry. His presentation drew plaudits from attendees, especially for its information about smart labels, QR code utilization, and automation. In a world where both consumers and regulators have an insatiable appetite for understanding what’s in food and beverage products and why, smart labels empowered by QR code technology offer the ability for product information to be unconstrained by physical packaging space. Similarly, new advances in automation offers the potential for production to be unbound by human capital.

This last note is important, and it is a central argument in Dr. Thornberg’s work. By the esteemed economist’s thinking labor challenges are not unique to the food industry, and in California, are the product of the persistent housing shortage and demographics. Similar to Phillips, Thornberg believes every business should be pursuing an automation strategy.

Outside of technology and automation, the economist ran through a high volume of key economic indicators, all utilized to illustrate his main contention of the day: The media narratives that focus on the looming recession are misaligned with the data. Instead, data around consumer savings and spending across many discretionary categories leads to a much rosier picture. In fact, the greatest danger to consumers is the doom-loop, recessionary narrative becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

With plenty of food for thought to digest, the forecast was followed by an industry mixer where supplier and wholesale executives had the chance to mix and mingle with some of the region’s sharpest grocery retailers. Thank you to everyone who attended, and to our sponsors RMS and FMS. We hope to see you again at one of the Association’s other events this summer or fall.

City of Perris

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Healthy Communities Require Choice, Not Its Elimination

The Perris City Council is continuing to work on Ordinance 1423, which seeks to severely restrict what foods and beverages grocers can sell in store checkout areas. It’s a misguided strategy that is unfriendly to businesses and places little faith in Perris residents by dictating a set of “healthy” product choices to the city’s grocery shoppers as defined by politicians. In some cases, literally whole fruit and vegetable products would be forbidden.

Whether shopping for healthy ingredients for a home-cooked meal or simply looking for a treat at the end of a long day, the “when” or “why” shoppers decide what goes into their shopping carts is not for Perris elected officials to dictate.

Grocers support the Perris elected officials who are seeking healthier lifestyles for their community residents, but we also believe nearly every resident would agree that consumer choice and moderation are key components of health. For this reason, the city’s grocery community has urged the City Council to implement Ordinance 1423 in a way that allows consumers to have easy access to a broad mix of product choices in the checkout area of their local grocery store.

We trust in the people of Perris to choose what’s best for them and their families. From the mom-and-pop grocer to the supermarket, grocery stores provide access to healthy food in every community. We take that job seriously and hope the grocery industry can continue to serve Perris residents’ every occasion.

For more information on Ordinance 1423, read the Association’s letter to Mayor Michael Vargas below. To contact the Mayor’s office regarding this matter, call (951) 943-6100, or email at [email protected].

Asm. Speaker Visits Hollister Super

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New Speaker Talks Grocery with CGA Representatives

Asm. Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) has known Danny since he was a boy. Danny, a longtime produce manager at Hollister Super, was in the store working when the future Assembly Speaker stopped by the community grocer for a meeting and tour. The two embraced, before quickly catching up and posing for a picture with Hollister Super owner Chang So.

These are the types of connections that make the grocery community, and Hollister Super in particular, so special. Whether it’s the grocer’s role as job-provider or a brick-and-mortar store’s ability to offer a place to find nourishing foods and maybe bump into a friendly face, grocery stores are one of the few public spaces that are truly communal.

“Our stores have been in the community since 1983, and we joke that almost everybody in Hollister has worked here at one point or another.” Hollister Super owner Chang So said. “In fact, it’s even true for me. I left my job in tech world in 2003 to come back and run my family’s business. It’s a special experience to be such a vital part of a community like Hollister, and we were thrilled to have Assemblymember Rivas pay us a visit.”

The future Assembly Speaker joined Hollister Super staff and representatives from the California Grocers Association for a store tour to learn more about the grocery industry’s operations and the challenges facing independent and ethnic grocers. They discussed a number of issues impacting stores up and down the state.

“Independent grocers like Hollister Super feed and nourish communities across the state,” said CGA President and CEO Ron Fong, who attended the store tour. “They really are our lifeblood, and they add so much to the diversity and bounty of food options we have available to us in California.”

When Asm. Rivas becomes Assembly Speaker, the top leadership position in California’s State Assembly, on June 30, it will be the first time since the late 1990s the Speaker role has been held by an elected official outside the Greater Los Angeles Region. It’s an important point of distinction for Hollister Super owner Chang So.

“I’m excited to have someone ascend to the state’s leadership from Hollister,” he explained. “Someone who understands the opportunities and challenges of small communities and community-minded businesses.”

Retail Tomorrow, California

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An In-Depth look at the current and future states of retail

Last week, the CGA Board and staff traversed the Bay Area, taking a deeper look at the supply chain, workforce, and companies on the vanguard of technology. The tour was part of the Association’s first Retail Tomorrow, California, event and quarterly board of directors meeting, and it brought attendees to the ground level of the macroeconomic issues facing our industry, as well as some of the possible solutions.

“Living in the past and the future at the same time” was how one panelist described the current state of the supply chain and labor pool, and nowhere was this more apparent than in the first leg of Retail Tomorrow. Attendees kicked off Wednesday morning with a tour of Plenty and the Port of Oakland. Plenty, a vertical farming operation, has developed a near-fully automated operation whereby high yields of leafy greens can be generated without soil or by-hand harvesting.

While Plenty offered one vision for the future of retail, attendees also received an on-the-ground picture of the current state of retail — specifically, the functions of the supply chain — when visiting the Port of Oakland. A mid-sized operation, the Port features no automation, and guest speakers shared that there is little productive difference in efficiency between its current workforce and an automated one.

After touring Plenty and the Port of Oakland, the Retail Tomorrow group explored PayPal Park, home of the San Jose Earthquakes soccer team. Oakland Athletics President, and former San Jose Earthquakes President, Dave Kaval led grocers and suppliers on an exploration of how professional sports teams work to engage their customers at the park. In a world powered by digital interactions, Kaval noted the franchise must work to draw fans to an in-person event while utilizing data and digital marketing savvy to keep their attention at games and after.

Following the Association’s Board of Directors meeting, the group visited Google’s new Bay View campus. There, hundreds of employees appeared to be truly flourishing, given plenty of space and modes to express themselves for the benefit of the business. Hearing from Google’s “Food for Good” founder, Emily Ma, you sensed the way Google employees combine the human touch with bleeding edge technology. In Ma’s case it took the form of dumpster diving at five a.m. to track food waste while using AI to detect and predict the growth of mold and defects in strawberries. CGA is extremely excited to begin collaborating with Google to increase equity and sustainability all while reducing food waste in the communities we serve.

If you’d like to learn more about Retail Tomorrow, California, enjoy this sneak peek from the event!