Chapter 14. DANNY WEGMAN

CEO of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.

Wegmans ranked by Consumer Reports as best grocery chain in 2009

Chosen by Fortune as Best Company to Work For in 2005

In a world full of people who talk a good game, Danny Wegman doesn't.

He actually plays one.

Danny runs one of the highest-quality grocery store chains in the country—in the world, really—and you could see him on the street and not know who he was. But his presence is felt in each Wegmans food market.

"I remember when I started out," Danny says about the early days. "I began working in the produce department and meat department—the butcher shop. And I didn't understand the importance of the front end—dealing with the customer—until then. What you learn up there is incredible service. What's that? Well, you learn first of all to work as a team."

As Danny began working for his father in the 1960s, his personal guiding light came from President John F. Kennedy. "As a young man, back when I was in high school, John Kennedy was President, and I asked myself, what am I going to do with my life? He said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.' That was his theme for how we would act. As a young man I really wanted to do things that made our community better, made life better for others and help others."

Those values may help explain, despite his position, his modest bearing. He may not mention that he was a star basketball player in high school. He might not tell you that he graduated ...

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