Dave Richard, VP of operations for Fred Meyer, began his food retail career nearly four decades ago.
“I’ve been in the business my whole life,” he said. “I started as a bagger over 36 years ago. I have worked all over the West Coast, including Alaska and California.”
Richard left Safeway and joined Cincinnati, Ohio-based The Kroger Co. in December 2019, pre-COVID-19 pandemic. He later beccame the VP of operations for Fred Meyer during the peak of the pandemic. With his experience in Alaska, Washington and Idaho, he had grown to understand Fred Meyer stores.
Richard has been married for 26 years and has one adult child studying computer science at Washington State University.
Asked for his primary responsibilities within the company, whose headquarters are in Portland, Oregon, Richard mentioned several objectives.
“I have objectives from our parent company, Kroger, that I blend with our own. My focus in retail has always been around fresh and in-stock. This lines up well with our objectives,” he said.
“Fred Meyer has world-class service and a friendly environment. I am dedicated along with my team to ensure that we sustain and build on this daily. Friendly is what we build everything around.”
Richard knows that his role at Fred Meyer is quite extensive. He leads asset protection, facilities, pick-up and fuel, just to name a few.
“What makes Fred Meyer special is that it is not only a fantastic grocery store but simply has a lot more to offer,” he said. “Furniture, electronics, outdoor garden are a few of the non-food offerings. It truly is a one-stop shop.
“Learning the non food side of the business was a great experience and really opened my eyes to how truly different each operated.”
Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, Richard said it “really brought Fred Meyer to life in so many ways.”
“Customers had to reimagine how they purchased and we could see the power of what Fred Meyer could contribute,” he added.
During the pandemic, shoppers might have been wary of visiting multiple stores for clothing, bedding and bath items, but Fred Meyer has “all of those things.”
When it comes to competitors, Richard cited big box retailers such as Walmart and Costco.
A typical week for him involves travel. “We operate in four states, three different time zones,” he said. “There are 132 stores. So realistically, my time is out in the stores quite a bit helping the district managers and the store managers.
“Monday, maybe a half day Tuesday is our office day. And then the rest [of the week] I’m on the road traveling. I travel quite a bit. It’s about driving in-stock condition, especially during the pandemic, and focusing on what we can control.”
Richard averages two to three store visits a day.
“For me, it would be two to three hours minimum in a store for me to hit all areas of the store and visit with associates…your average Fred Meyer has almost 300 associates. To really make a connection with people, you have to pay attention to what they are telling you.
“We’re in the people business and it’s about driving results and getting things done through our store teams.”
Richard has found the people culture at Fred Meyer, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, to be “quite amazing. It’s very family oriented.”
Richard also cited the complexity of Fred Meyer.
“A large investment has been made in our pick-up and delivery services, which has helped cater to customers’ needs during the pandemic. We have 130 stores out of our 132 that offer pick-up.”
“From the company perspective, we talk about feeding the human spirit,” he said. “Our focus is to uplift store teams and make people feel great.”
To view the full section on Fred Meyer from The Shelby Report, click here.