What started as a part-time job after school in 1992 has evolved into a fulfilling career for Todd Kammeyer, VP of merchandising at Fred Meyer.
“I was 16 years old and started at Smith’s Food and Drug in South Ogden, Utah, where I grew up. The store was close to home and my high school, so it worked out well,” he recalled.
“Quickly, I realized how much I enjoyed working there and interacting with the people. It was fun to work hard, but also make friends with customers and other associates. I worked there through high school and into my first year of college.”
At age 19, Kammeyer took a two-year leave to serve an LDS mission in Europe. “Once I returned home to Utah, I planned to get back to school and start working to get through college,” he said. “I returned to Smith’s, because I enjoyed the fast-paced work, alongside so many great people.”
Kammeyer was offered a role in management and credited his store manager for tremendous support.
“My store manager, Mike Fisher, really took me under his wing. Mike offered me the chance to run the store at night and attend school during the day,” Kammeyer said. “When I got there at four o’clock, we would do a full store walk together. He would teach me what to look for and what needed to get accomplished. He’d ‘pass the baton’ to me upon every shift.
“I took great pride in making sure the store looked outstanding, that we took good care of customers and that the place looked ready to go when he walked in that next morning.”
Looking back, Kammeyer was inspired by Fisher’s mentorship. “Although he taught me the fundamentals of running a store, most importantly he taught me the importance of taking care of your people and the big impact you can have on those you lead,” he said.
During this time, Fred Meyer acquired Smith’s, which was later followed by Cincinnati, Ohio-based The Kroger Co. acquiring Fred Meyer.
“There became a lot of opportunities,” Kammeyer said. “There was a position that came open at the corporate office in Salt Lake City to help with system conversions. I went and helped with several projects and later became a district operations supervisor in 2001. I oversaw front-end, scanning and bookkeeping for 25 Smith’s stores, while continuing to finish my degree.”
Later, after graduating with a business degree from Weber State University in 2003, Kammeyer completed the Food Industry Management Program at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. Kammeyer said he “thoroughly enjoyed” the learning experience.
When he returned to Utah, the company tasked him with rolling out new shrink-prevention tools, leading the division’s ordering and in-stock focus, along with partnering with the division’s strategic initiatives.
“I worked for a dynamic, supportive executive team that exposed me to many different areas of the business,” he said. “It was an incredible time of learning for me.”
In 2006, Kammeyer recalled, Smith’s leaders suggested he become a store manager. He started managing a store in Cottonwood Heights and later moved to the store in Syracuse, Utah, until 2008. Kammeyer then oversaw the launch of the company’s new communications platform and developed its first associate website and several impactful customer and associate programs. In 2012, he joined a district team as a merchandising manager before becoming a district manager for Fry’s in Phoenix.
“Moving to Fry’s and leading district teams was an incredible experience for me,” he said. “It taught me the importance of building a strong team with great people, leading with high expectations and coaching others to be at their best.
“I saw the ‘magic’ that can happen when you build a great team that believes and works together. I truly loved coaching, mentoring and watching people flourish and grow. It’s the most satisfying part of leadership.”
A promotion to VP of operations for the Fry’s division followed. Two years later, Kammeyer switched over to lead merchandising. In 2019, he joined the Portland, Oregon-based Fred Meyer division as VP of operations, transitioning to his current role as VP of merchandising in March 2020.
“Being a part of the Fred Meyer leadership team has been an honor for me,” he said. “Fred Meyer is a unique division within Kroger with all the expanded general merchandise, including home, apparel, extensive garden centers and Fred Meyer Jewelers. We operate in four states, across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.”
Although his background began in groceries, Kammeyer immediately appreciated the complexity of the Fred Meyer organization.
“Truly, we’re a one-stop shop where customers love coming to Fred Meyer,” he said. “Today, customers come to us for their food needs, but also to find great items for homes and gardens, electronics, sporting goods, toys, apparel and jewelry.
“It’s amazing that over 100 years ago, Fred Meyer had the vision of a true ‘one-stop’ shopping experience and how he innovated the concept. It’s interesting to hear of the many items we’ve carried over the years – everything from lumber to fabric to tires.”
Kammeyer also realized the learning opportunities that come with working within the division.
“One of the reasons that I came to Fred Meyer was for the expanded experience and leading a new team,” he said. “Our team is full of experienced people who are passionate about making Fred Meyer the best retailer in the Pacific Northwest.”
Kammeyer currently leads the merchandising team and oversees Fred Meyer Jewelers
“I typically spend Mondays and Tuesdays regrouping with my team, analyzing the prior week – where we’re doing well, where we have opportunity gaps and coming up with different plans. Typically, the rest of the week is spent in the markets to assess what’s happening, the impact of our decisions in stores and where we need to innovate.”
When visiting the company’s 132 stores, Kammeyer often travels with members of his team.
“I typically feel that I’m most effective when I’m with other people – to teach and gather feedback,” he explained. “When I go, I typically take several merchandisers, along with our district managers, because I want us to be connected and aligned. Solid alignment between the operations and merchandising team is critical to helping us move fast and pivot where necessary. Plus, the camaraderie of spending time together keeps the business fun.”
In addition, Kammeyer spends a lot of time in the market assessing competition. “Obviously, we’re not the only retailer and we can constantly learn from others. Plus, it keeps us customer-focused in everything we do,” he said.
As for the rest of 2022, Kammeyer is looking forward to celebrating the company’s 100th anniversary.
“Fred Meyer has a long, rich legacy of selling products that customers want in clean, friendly stores. Plus, it’s our people that help make Fred Meyer special and how we’re really there for our communities,” he said.
“From my start back in 1992 at the South Ogden Smith’s to today, I’m proud to be part of the Fred Meyer team.”
For more information, visit fredmeyer.com.