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What They Do
Run nine full-service Nugget Market grocery stores and three Food 4 Less stores in and around Sacramento, California.
Headquarters: Woodland, California
Annual Revenues: $280 Million.
What Makes Nugget Market, Inc. Great
It's not every grocery store that sends grocery baggers to the National Bag-Off Championships in Las Vegas, or executives into the streets to wash employees' cars while workers get to toss water balloons at the company picnic. Then again, not every grocery store is Nugget Market, Inc.
Employees say the $280 million grocery chain, which runs nine Nugget Market stores and three Food 4 Less stores in and around Sacramento, California, is a dynamic and friendly workplace where employees are treated with respect, and that much of the credit goes to the Stille family, who started the business in 1926 and continues to run it.
"Owner Gene Stille always does an intercom as he leaves telling all the associates how much he appreciates them," one employee says. "Associates are very loyal to Nugget and proud to work here because we are appreciated and encouraged to make our way in the company."
You can't talk about working at Nugget without talking about team or talking about fun. While some companies may set time aside for special celebrations and fun activities, creativity and humor are built right in to how Nugget does its business. Every day starts with a spirited "rally" at each Nugget location, where teams share critical information for the day and get psyched up. Their annual Bag-Off Championship lets courtesy clerks compete for the title of Best Bagger; last year the full-scale production was built around movie themes and held at the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento. Not a bagger? Maybe you could win the Gangam Style Dance-Off during the Spirit Competition. Year-end parties are held at locations like the Palms in Las Vegas, the Hard Rock Cafe, and Alcatraz. Management meetings have taken place in rented wrestling rings. It's not just managers who get to attend these events, though: When Nugget took the company whitewater rafting this past summer, they held multiple events so as many employees of all levels as possible would be able to attend — and they are paid to do so.
As fun as Nugget is, there is hard work happening amongst the high spirits. Nine out of ten employees say they have the resources that they need to do their jobs, and four out of five or more say that everyone is consistently cooperative, managers recognize hard work, and people have the training needed for them to develop professionally.
More than one employee attests for the support they've received from the team when they've needed it. For example, when a particular store was short staffed due to a combination of increased demand and an employee's illness, a "Store Director enlisted the help of other stores and had an immediate surge of help sent our way to fill the void," says one employee. "It was an incredible feeling!"
Other employees speak of the support they receive to accommodate personal needs. When one employee moved to a new town, Nugget Market saw that she got a transfer to a different location so she could work closer to her new home. "Nugget was amazing," the employee says. "They got me transferred to the store I wanted and the same department as I was working in my previous store." In all, 83 percent of employees say that managers recognize their needs as people, and not just as employees, and just as many report that people are actually encouraged to balance their work and personal lives at Nugget.
Forty-six percent of the company's workforce of 1,151 has been with the business at least six years. Turnover is minimal as a result: just 14 percent in the past year, according to company statistics. In 87 years of operations, Nugget Market has never had a layoff.
As a result, this highly committed and spirited group of employees has few complaints about working at Nugget. Indeed, more than four out of five actually say that they consistently look forward to coming to work each day. However, a minority of employees say that conditions can vary by manager, or feel favoritism can sometimes be an issue. And given the rowdy energy at Nugget, outgoing types who are willing to poke fun at themselves at a moment's notice will probably feel most comfortable fitting in.
If you do join the crew, expect to bring your whole self, because Nugget will be your cheerleader. The company tracks employees' talents outside work and hires staff when they have an unusual need to fulfill, like creating internal videos. Store executives and department leaders use Nugget's internal U-Tube to share important information and also feature employees who've won service awards. "They write messages to the company and they say nice things about lots of people," one employee says about U-Tube. "Really encouraging. We're in a tough business and I'm proud to be on this team. Awesome place to work!"
Many other employees share in the sentiment. In all, 91 percent say they're proud to tell people where they work. "I really enjoy the great attitude and welcoming atmosphere that we bring to the table when you step into this store," one employee says. "You cannot walk past an associate, department, or check stand without a glowing smile followed by a 'Hello.' We truly are something special, and (I am) honored to work here."
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