When it comes to the supermarkets that make up the Roundy's family, including Mariano's, the strength of the company lies in its people, says Bob Mariano, chairman and chief executive officer of Roundy's.
"We have to teach and have a shared vision … so they do things because they want to, not because they're told what to do," Mariano told a sizable group of people who attended a recent GLMV (Green Oaks, Libertyville, Mundelein, Vernon Hills) Chamber of Commerce business mixer. From going the extra mile for a customer to greeting people in a genuine way, "they have to want to do it," Mariano added.
He shared the story of a young man who works at Mariano's in Palatine. While gathering carts, the young man greets customers as they get out of their cars and offers his assistance—and tells them he'll see them again when they're on their way out of the store.
Mariano said customers tell his company consistently that the reason they keep returning to Roundy's stores (Mariano's, Pick'n Save, Copps, Rainbow and Metro Market) is because "we love your people."
Mariano and American Chartered Bank President Dan Miller each shared that similar message at the Sept. 27 business event, sponsored by American Chartered Bank and held at the bank's Vernon Hills branch.
Miller, who lives in Barrington, also serves as the chief executive officer of American Chartered Bank, which he co-founded in 1987.
"When we started the bank, we had an idea," said Miller. "Our idea … was to do it better. The world didn't need another mediocre bank. It was about customer service."
He spoke of the early days of the bank, of working late with a team to set up furniture, and then opening the bank with no clients.
"I remember doing anything and everything, every job at the company," said Miller, who added that because of his height, he was in charge of changing light bulbs.
Building the business, he said, was "all about separating from our competition."
"You need great people. It's all about the people," said Miller. "In our organization, we have a strong emphasis on attributes over experience. You can't do customer service if you can't empathize."
There's also a strong emphasis on the employees being partners. Miller said a third of the employees have equity stakes in the company.
"We talk about ourselves a lot as a partnership," said Miller. "Partners take care of clients better than anyone else."
Emphasis on People
That emphasis on people is something Mariano feels strongly about.
Mariano has worked in the food business for more than 40 years. After delivering Chicago newspapers as a child, Mariano took a job at a restaurant.
"I always worked," said Mariano, adding that he got that work ethic from his father. "Pop knew what hard work was."
After college, Mariano worked as a cook's helper at Dominick's, a company he would ultimately become the president of after working as a food salesman.
"What I began to understand was the value of customers," said Mariano.
He started working for Dominick's in 1973 and left the company in 1998. In 2002, he became the president and CEO of Roundy's, a company with a 150-year history in Wisconsin. The company has grown to include 162 stores, and Mariano said it will continue to grow in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
"The strength of our business is our people," said Mariano.
"To be successful in any business, you have to have good people who are focused on serving the customers," said Mariano. There are 20,000 people working for Roundy's, Mariano said, adding that "we want them all to have a shared vision."
For Mariano, his job is "not really work—it's a passion and a pleasure." He said he always advises people to "do what you love and do it with people you love being with. What we all do matters."