1969: Robert Wegman becomes chairman of the company.
1970: Operations begin at Wegmans’ own $3 million meat
distribution center at the Brooks Ave. site in Rochester. The
Meat Center, the first of its type, is another in a series of
moves to enable Wegmans to gain firmer control of their
Wegmans receives $100 Million Club Award, a plaque
signifying that the supermarket company has topped $100
million in sales.
1972: The first Wegmans Pharmacy opens.
1976: Danny Wegman becomes the president of Wegmans.
1979: Wegmans develops a private-label buying program
and introduces Wegmans Brand items chain wide.
1981: Robert Wegman is awarded the Sidney Rabb Award,
the Food Marketing Institute’s highest membership honor.
The award is bestowed “in recognition of extraordinary
contributions to the food marketing industry and to his
1983: The Wegmans Employee Scholarship Program begins.
1987: Fortune magazine awards Wegmans best in customer
service among national food retailers.
1991: Colleen Wegman joins the company. The following
year, Nicole Wegman joins.
1992: The first Market Café opens at the Corning, N. Y. store.
The Wegmans Food You Feel Good About program is
launched in the bakery.
the chain until his death in 2006. It was
Robert, constantly lauded for his prowess
as a merchant, who set in motion an expansion and development program that laid the
groundwork for the chain’s longevity and
transformed Wegmans into one of the largest,
and most profitable, private companies in the
Included in this transformation was the
introduction of private label, pioneering food
service operations and the Shoppers Club
electronic discount program. Robert also led
the way in laser scanning at the checkout and
played a pivotal role in the development of the
Universal Product Code in the early 1970s.
He invested in businesses that included an
egg farm, onsite meat processing facilities, a
central bakery, a real estate company and is
generally credited with creating the chain’s
40,000 square-foot store-within-a-store one
stop shopping concept that included floral,
pharmacy and the beginnings of what has
become a world-class prepared foods, bakery, seafood and meat departments. All have
become Wegmans’ hallmarks, but in stores
three and four times the size of the original
industry liaison, Cornell Institute for Food Systems and the Industry
Wegmans is definitely at the forefront of trying new ideas and I have a lot of respect for that. They are
organized, systematic and creative. It is a combination that serves them well.
Food safety has been one of the most prominent areas of our relationship with Wegmans. Their
employees have come to Cornell’s training programs in the extension arena on food safety in addition to
Wegmans own internal food safety programs. There are also times when they are looking for a read on
a particular food safety issue from one of our faculty at the Food Research Laboratory in Geneva, N. Y.
It is a lot of fun engaging with Wegmans because they are forward thinkers and very strategic. It is
refreshing to see how they are thinking about food in the future and their willingness to invest in order to
be more prepared to feed people with more nutritious foods.
Another area of interest has been with high pressure processing. Wegmans and LiDestri Food &
Beverage are collaborating to bring this new approach to food processing and food safety to the
Rochester area. Cornell will provide the expertise of multiple faculty in the Department of Food Science
and will conduct validation studies at the New York State Agricultural Station in Geneva, N. Y. This is a
collaborative effort among the university, industry and government that Wegmans helped forge.
The artisanal cheese program has also been a very strong program for several years and Wegmans
has really helped make a difference in New York State’s capabilities. They have provided support for
the program that enhances the capabilities of artisanal cheesemakers in the state and help them understand the retail market and new food safety regulations.
It is part of Wegmans’ commitment to revitalizing upstate New York and its vision of the State as an
East Coast food hub for the nation.