Kenneth “Kenny” Honeycutt, along with his wife Brenda, owns and operates the Piggly Wiggly store in Tarboro, North Carolina, which is home to about 10,000 residents. He is involved in all aspects of store operations, including ordering, scheduling, advertising, personnel, government regulation compliance, store conditions and customer service.
Honeycutt’s Piggly Wiggly store, located at 2030 N. Main Street in the Fairview Shopping Center, is a full-service supermarket with fresh-cut meat, fresh produce, a cold deli and a full line of grocery and household items.
“The store first opened in 1980 under different ownership,” says Honeycutt. “My wife Brenda and I took over the operation in 1988. We have a silent partner in Mr. Reggie Fountain Jr., and this is the only store that any of us operate.”
Honeycutt got his start in the industry working for a Be Lo supermarket in Portsmouth, Virginia, while still in high school. In 1970 he took a job with Colonial Stores, which later became Big Star Foods and was owned by Grand Union Co. After numerous transfers and promotions, Honeycutt ended his career with Big Star as district sales manager in Raleigh.
An active member of the Carolinas Food Industry Council, Honeycutt has served on the organization’s board of directors for three different terms; he also has served the group in both the second VP and first VP positions. In July, he was elected as the CFIC’s 2015-16 president (see CFIC convention coverage in the October print edition of The Shelby Report of the Southeast).
Honeycutt recently answered a few questions and discussed his thoughts about the industry, as well as what has helped make his business a success.
Q: What is the key to grocery success?
The keys to success include hard work, long hours, attention to detail, fresh product, excellent customer service, competitive prices and cleanliness. These components are essential to continued success.
Q: What changes have you seen in the grocery industry since you became involved?
I don’t have the writing skills to tell about the changes in this business since 1968. From sawdust on the cutting-room floor, to ordering groceries with a pencil and sending that order through the U.S. Postal Service, to having to price mark every box, bottle and can in the store—there have been a lot of changes. When I first read…about “scanning” and barcodes it sounded like science fiction. The advances in technology and food production are amazing when I think back to those days of “ice-packed” chicken, naked lettuce and “swinging beef.” One thing that hasn’t changed is people—honest, hard-working people are still the backbone of our industry, and I am proud to say I am a “groceryman.”
Q: What do you think the future holds for CFIC’s grocers in our current business climate?
The grocery industry will continue to evolve as the traditional grocery store faces competition from a myriad of formats. The super centers, dollar stores, drug stores and fast food restaurants all vie for the consumer’s food dollar. The future is bright for those companies led by hard-working, forward-thinking and innovative men and women.
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on you professionally?
I would have to say that John Morgan with our Piggly Wiggly group in Kinston, North Carolina, has been my greatest professional influence.
Q: What do you do for fun?
My hobbies are guitar (bluegrass gospel and country) and golf (13 handicap). I do love to travel when my schedule permits. My favorite trips have been to Hawaii and Alaska.
Q: What is the biggest value a grocer can receive from the CFIC and other state associations like it?
There are a number of values that grocers gain from involvement in CFIC, including networking opportunities and operational insights. I think the biggest value is the legislative work in Raleigh and Columbia to affect positive changes in state laws and rules as it relates to the grocery industry.
*Editor’s note: This Independent Spotlight is part of the Carolinas Market Profile, which appears in the October print edition of The Shelby Report of the Southeast.