Sam Barrow, senior director of human resources, was recruited to join Super King Markets eight years ago. At the time, he served as human resources manager for a Japanese-based hospitality group in its Los Angeles office.
Of his role with the grocer, Barrow said: “We try to support our employees and give them all the tools that they need to make it into work and have a good career here at Super King Markets. We try to keep the stores fully staffed, which is kind of hard to do nowadays.”
He added his greatest issue is finding and retaining employees. “The job market’s kind of dried up. Not a lot of people are willing to come back to work just yet. Finding good talent, that’s the biggest challenge we have right now. And retaining them – that’s a close second.”
As Super King Markets caters to customers of different ethnic backgrounds, finding employees who speak other languages is helpful for certain locations. “Our Glendale location has a strong Armenian population. It’s beneficial to be fluent in a second language. But for the other locations, not so much.”
Support for team members includes a company benefit plan, employee recognition and 401(k). “We try to give them a really good work-life balance.”
Barrow said the produce departments at Super King locations always are given a priority as far as staffing goes. The company looks to fill those vacancies from within when possible. When hiring from outside the company, he said they look for someone who has at least some prior experience working in a produce department.
Due to the large variety and quantity of produce that Super King carries, Barrow said the learning curve for new employees is a bit longer due to the number of SKUs and items that are not as familiar. “Our managers are pretty experienced, so they bring their employees around relatively quickly.”
Barrow is in the office at 6 a.m. each day. Around lunchtime, he said he tries to visit a few stores. His goal is to visit all eight locations each week.
He said he enjoys working in the family-owned business. The environment “translates from the corporate office all the way out to the stores. Our staff members spend a lot of time together…they bond together pretty well. We have a family-like, fun atmosphere at our locations.”
Barrow praised the Fermanian family’s approach to the business. “They’re at the stores speaking with employees; they’re with the purchasing team. They try to solve problems with all their staff members whenever anything comes up. So as far as being hands on, and being involved, that’s where I think the biggest part of their success comes from.”
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