George Jenkins walked away from his job in the midst of the Great Depression to open the first Publix store in Winter Haven, Fla. with the idea to open a store that set a new standard for cleanliness and beauty.






  • Headquarters: Lakeland, Fla.
  • Founding year: 1930
  • Number of locations as of January 2011: 1,033
  • Q4 2010 net earnings: $342.1 million, compared to $284.2 million in 2009

Maria Brous, director of media and community relations, said that for more than 81 years has “remained committed to providing our customers with stellar customer service and quality products and services while delivering it all at a competitive price. We have remained on course for those 81 years and haven’t had to reinvent who or what we are. We are passionately focused on our customers and their shopping experience.”

Employee relations were also at the top of the list for Mr. George, which is what his associates called him. In the 1930s, he established profit sharing and employee ownership, and the company continues to be the largest and fastest-growing employee-owned supermarket chain in the US. “Our greatest competitive advantage is that we are employee owned and operated,” said Brous. “We are directly responsible for our bottom line and success. Our founder, George Jenkins, always said, ‘Publix will be a little better place or not quite as good because of you.’ Still today, you’ll find the same statement throughout our stores and support areas.”

Brous said focusing on the customer and the shopping experience enables Publix to stay connected to what its customers want. “We conduct focus groups, customer voice surveys, engage with customers on the front end of our stores, welcome feedback at all levels, etc. so we can meet and exceed the customer’s expectations. Our CEO, Ed Crenshaw, challenges our associates to know your business, know your products, know your customers, and train and develop your associates.”

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