Q&A with Meg Major
Welcome to Endcap, Donny! Let’s begin by
discussing Rouses’ rapid growth, which
has leaped from 16 stores in Louisiana to
55 across three states ( 47 in Louisiana,
three on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and
five in Alabama) in a matter of 10 years.
That’s a very impressive achievement
and, I assume, also highly rewarding. But
it was obviously not without risks. What’s
one thing the experience has taught you
about yourself and your teammates that
you are most proud of?
Donny Rouse: When we began our rapid
growth in 2007—that’s the year we acquired
[the now-defunct] A&P’s southern division—my grandfather, father and uncle were
heavily involved. My grandfather continued
to help guide the company until his death in
2009. Risk can come with great rewards. You
have to trust yourself and the team you’ve
built to make the right decisions. We have
a great team that truly works as a team. For
them, it’s never just about individual commitments; it’s always about the group effort.
We’re also one of the largest employers on
the Gulf Coast. I’m very proud of that.
As grandson of founder Anthony Rouse
Sr., it would not be a stretch to say you
grew up in your family’s stores. Please
briefly describe the differences and
similarities of the leadership styles of
your grandfather; your dad, Donald; and
I wouldn’t be who I am without my father
and grandfather. They were both very
hands-on, and not just with the business. My
grandfather was always up on a ladder fixing
something. But as you grow—and we continue to grow, with four new stores opening
this year—you really need to take on some of
the structures of a larger company. We have
a great management team in place. I trust
them. So, while I’m actively involved, and I
push them, I give them the room they need
Veteran grocery exec Steve Black, who
joined Rouses as president and COO in
2016, was quoted as saying, “If there’s one
supermarket in the country that’s got it all
together, it’s Rouses.” How would you explain the lagniappe that he’s referring to?
I think it’s our combination of best quality
and best price (that was my grandfather’s
motto) plus service. We want you to have an
incredible experience every time you shop.
We want you to feel proud of the Rouses
Markets where you live, work and shop.
Rouses is renowned for its fresh depart-
ments, but seafood is its particular strong
suit. What’s important to note about that
fact that makes you most proud?
We’re right here on the Gulf Coast. The seafood industry creates a lot of jobs, from the
fishermen who work the waters to the chefs
and cooks in our great restaurants. We make
Gulf seafood a priority. We make everything
local a priority. We buy more local products
and support more local farmers and fishermen than anyone else.
Epicurious named Rouses the Best Grocery Store in America in 2016. Realizing
the designation was subjective and based
on the reporter’s opinion, can you please
tell us about a company you admire, and
It’s another local company, Raising Cane’s,
a fast-food restaurant chain specializing
in chicken fingers that was founded by my
friend Todd Graves. It’s the fastest-growing
restaurant chain in the United States. I
appreciate his commitment to quality.
Donny Rouse is CEO of
Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses
Markets. He is the third generation
to run the 55-store company.
What is your favorite season
and why? Hunting season. I grew up
hunting ducks, deer, rabbits and wild
hogs. Deer season is my favorite.
Who was your best friend
growing up? Are you still friends?
Lee Veillon, our HR director, has
been one of my best friends since
grammar school. I L
Z Risk can come with
great rewards. You
have to trust yourself
and the team you’ve
built to make the right
decisions. We have a
great team that truly
works as a team.”