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Grocers Supply Company Salutes Its People

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Hometown Heroes competing in country’s ‘toughest retail grocery market’

by Mary Margaret Stewart, staff writer

People. Grocers Supply Company is a wholesaler that serves independent retailers. But when stripped down, the most important part of this 90-year family business is the people. And GSC’s people are quick to share that.

Eric Winn, president of retail independents at C&S Wholesale Grocers, has been with the company for over 16 years. And the two things he loves most about his job are the “opportunities to collaborate with and provide great service to our customers…[and] the tremendous opportunity to lead our great people and help them succeed.”

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Eric Winn

“We have great people who want to do what is best for our customers,” Winn added. “It is no accident that C&S has made ‘braggingly happy customers’ a cornerstone of its philosophy and culture for 102 years and counting. When we added GSC to the C&S family in 2015, both cultures had that core element, so it was a great fit.”

And other than having great people who want to best serve customers, Winn said GSC has found success through an “outstanding group of customers who have found innovative ways to win in a highly competitive marketplace.”

Bob Morton, director of retail sales for Grocers Supply, has been with the company nearly 28 years. He also said the customers, vendor partners and his peers alike are incredible.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with and call on some of the greatest people there are,” Morton said. “That’s my favorite part, is working with all of the great people that I’ve been able to interact with over the years.”

Morton said that GSC has always been committed to excellence in serving the independent grocer. The wholesaler is flexible when needed, which he added is its greatest asset.

“I oversee all the sales and service sales teams…I’m responsible for not only sales, but customer service as far as keeping the customers happy,” Morton said. “The sales team is the main liaison between Grocers Supply and the customer.

“Our customer service is the best in the industry. Our customer-facing team members are dedicated to helping the customer.

“And it’s not just…customer service. It’s our merchandising, team drivers, retail services – everyone with Grocers Supply that interacts with customers has the same goal. And that’s to take care of our customers and help them with all of their needs.”

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Bob Morton

Morton can attest to people being at the core of Grocers Supply since the beginning. He worked closely with one of the former owners, Milton Levit, who he considers a mentor.

“His dedication to the customer was a great mentorship for me, just seeing how he cared so much…he once told me – he said, ‘Bob, if you take care of the customer, sales will take care of themselves,’” Morton said. “And that’s really what I base my whole career on is taking care of the customer, knowing that as long as I can take care of the customer, that the sales will follow.”

This philosophy of taking care of your people extended into COVID times, too. While many challenges have arisen from the pandemic, Morton said the priority for GSC has been taking care and precaution.

“No. 1 is keeping our frontline team members safe,” he said. “As an essential business…everybody that had to come to work every day was working in a high-risk environment, and their performance has been exemplary.”

And the GSC retail partners have been priority, too – the “Hometown Heroes” in Texas.

“We operate in the toughest retail grocery market in the country, and our customers are in a dogfight every day,” Morton said. “They are continuously servicing their communities. There have been a lot of retailers that have gone above and beyond, whether it’s special scheduling for senior citizens or high-risk consumers. They continue to take care of their needs throughout this whole pandemic.

“And just like at Grocers Supply, their employees are essential, and without them, we wouldn’t be able to get through this. Just being on the frontlines every day, our customers have done a tremendous job of serving their communities.

“Again, it’s just all about the people. And I can’t stress that enough. Both Grocers Supply employees, our customers and our vendors – together is the only way.”

Chris Stanley, VP of distribution operations for the Southwest, reiterates this notion of togetherness, saying that the service GSC provided when COVID hit was tremendous.

“I cannot be more proud of my team and how they’ve banded together to service our customers through this new world of COVID,” Stanley said.

“One of our values is ‘one team.’ And truly, when I look at our procurement, sales, transportation, warehousing – all those different areas banded together to do everything we possibly could for our customers to ensure they got all the product they could possibly get.

“Initially, the challenges were just the massive volume that we were shipping, and it was overnight. It’s not like the holidays. I know Thanksgiving is coming every year at the same time. We didn’t know COVID was coming.

“Our teams worked an incredible number of hours. They came in on their days off to help out, and they did everything they could to band together to help service our customers…right when it happened.”

And Stanley sees great opportunity to continue to grow in the marketplace.

“We have an excellent leadership team in place, and I think that we’ve got great relationships with our customers,” Stanley said. “It’s just going to be a matter of working closer with them, to see how we can offer them what they need, and then be able to provide that and deliver it.”

Accomplishments, sales and metrics aside, the only thing that Stanley wants people to understand is “what our people did.”

“A building is a multimillion-dollar piece of steel and concrete, and it’s completely useless without the people that we have here,” he said.

“And what they went through…they had a ton of challenges that they figured out how to get around and work through to enable them to come into work and ship the volume that we shipped over that time.

“I am proud and impressed of what our people did to step up and really perform admirably.”

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