key account manager-consumer brands division, Rich Products
We have had a great partnership with Wegmans. Bob Rich is a close friend of Danny Wegman and
they have had a close personal relationship. On a business level, Wegmans may not be the size of customers like Walmart or Kroger, but they are unique and very easy to work with. I am not sure “laid back”
is the right way to describe it, but you feel at home when you visit them.
They have always been very receptive to new items. I work with products like SeaPak and Farm
Rich and we have another division for in-store bakery products like cookie dough that are sold into
A lot of concepts may have been developed for club stores, but when we have new items Wegmans
is usually the first of the mainstream retailers to try anything innovative. One example is our SeaPak
Lighthouse products. It is geared toward the healthy consumer, which is right in Wegmans wheelhouse.
They are willing to try new things, whether it ends up working or not. It is a matter of trust between
our two companies along with their creative thinking, which has been one of their key strengths.
We have talked about some long-term collaborative projects and Wegmans has asked us to be their
private label supplier on frozen appetizers and seafood. Right now there is a Wegmans initiative to get
clean labels for frozen foods with no artificial ingredients. If it was anyone else, the 88 stores and volume might not justify it, but due to our relationship and the fact that Wegmans is usually two steps ahead
of everyone else, we will take a close look at it.
And if they are asking for a clean label on frozens, you can bet everyone else will be doing it in the
next couple of years. Basically, we are open to working with them on anything they come up with. I
see retailers trying to make their private label products better and getting into prepared foods, but they
all follow Wegmans. The chain also takes the time to hire the right people and that is a big part of why
they win on customer service. It adds to their innovation.
a pushcart, John Wegman opened the
Rochester Fruit and Vegetable Co., a small
food store that was operated in front of the
Wegman family home in Rochester. His
brother Walter joined him a year later. Six
years later, business was so good that the
brothers opened a small store in another
location to include canned goods, a bakery
and a cafeteria.
By 1930, the Rochester store was converted to a still revolutionary self-service
concept, offering such innovations as a café
with seating for 300, refrigerated food displays, homemade candy and vapor water
sprays for the produce department. These
were among the many innovations that
made Wegmans something of a tourist destination in the early years.
This innovative mindset continued in
1950 when Robert Wegman—the son and
nephew of the founders was named president and subsequently chairman—guided
GHQ1605_000UncleWallys.indd 1 4/13/16 11:36AM