While Gabriel Mercado has been with Super King Markets for just seven months, he has been in the grocery business for the last 20 years. The VP of finance and accounting at Super King said he started his career at H-E-B in Texas, then in Mexico.
While at H-E-B, he moved from accounting and finance into merchandising. After leaving, he worked at several other retailers, all on the procurement and merchandising side.
Mercado has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is a licensed CPA in Texas and has his AICPA certificate.
Mercado said Super King is a retailer he has always respected. “I’ve always thought they had very well-run stores, very clean stores, lots of traffic. It’s almost like going to Disneyland when you walk into a store, especially when the ad breaks on Wednesdays.”
The fact that Super King is local to the Los Angeles area was another plus. “I’ve had opportunities to move elsewhere, but we really love the L.A. area,” he said. “Our family’s here, our friends are here. It was a good opportunity to join a great operator locally.”
Mercado enjoys working with the Fermanian family. “They’re very polite, respectful and appreciative people, which is not necessarily the case everywhere.”
They value his opinion and don’t micromanage, allowing him and his team to make decisions. He added they also listen to recommendations.
“If it makes sense for the company, for everybody, then we go with it,” he said. “It’s a flat organization, so we’re very quick to make decisions. We always focus on the customer first. All of our decisions are based on making sure the customer comes first. Our decision-making process is very quick and very simple because it’s all about the customer.”
In addition to regularly scheduled meetings with the Fermanians, Mercado said they also meet informally every day. “There’s a combination of structured meetings as well as just as things are happening. Again, like I said, we’re very flat, so it’s easy to get a hold of each other and have the conversations we need to have.”
Mercado said he enjoys his job, as it is not a traditional finance role. At Super King, the VP of finance role has “a lot more weight than it does in other places.” He gets to meet with the operators and merchants and “really talk about their business numerically and from a customer perspective, as well.”
“And then there’s, of course, the traditional finance side where we’re working with the banks and the auditors and preparing financial statements, reports and analysis,” he said. “But it doesn’t just end there. I’m actually able to see it through with the actual stakeholders.”
Mercado reports to Mary Fermanian for traditional finance and accounting manners. When involved with operations and merchandising, depending on the topic, he reports to Jake or Vache Fermanian, sometimes both.
While he does not set pricing, Mercado provides feedback on pricing strategy, category roles and competitive pricing.
“I help them, I ask them questions. I help them think about their role, how they want to position themselves within specific categories,” he said. “I’m trying to streamline how we do the competitive price checks. Then once all of that conversation is had, ultimately the merchant is still the one setting their price.”
Looking to the future, Mercado said growth is critical to the success of the company. “I think we’re always excited about and open to opportunities that make sense” for Super King, adding it is “a little different than most independents.”
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