Business in Focus: H-E-B

March 1, 2021 | Business In Focus

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As Texas faced record-low temperatures in February and snow and ice made roads impassable, the state’s electric grid operator lost control of the power supply, leaving millions without access to electricity. As the blackouts extended from hours to days, top state lawmakers called for investigations into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and Texans demanded accountability for the disaster. But when the power went out on February 16th at a crowded H-E-B in the Austin suburb of Leander, Texas, employees told shoppers that they could walk through the checkout aisles and take their groceries out of the store without paying.

Disbelief turned to smiles and even tears. Shoppers’ gratitude quickly spilled out into the parking lot as people began helping each other. Carts were getting stuck in the ice and snow. Groceries were tumbling onto the ground. An elderly woman whose wheels were spinning on ice got a push from three young men.

That spontaneous decision made at the store level reflects the company’s values and how H-E-B trusts its local managers to do the right thing. Other states have grocery stores, but H-E-B is more than just a place to buy milk, bread, and cheese. It’s a privately-owned supermarket chain that’s been serving Texas and northeast Mexico since 1905 founded on the belief that each and every person counts.

The company has received accolades for its commitment to disaster relief, hunger relief priorities, and was recognized by Indeed as a 2021 recipient for Best (Place to Work) for Veterans, by Forbes in 2020 for being among America’s Best Employers for Diversity and again by Forbes in 2020 for placing among the Best Employers for Women.

The decision to do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time at the Leander H-E-B store last month was no mistake. It was the product of a culmination of a 100+-year old culture that put team members and customers before profit.

Kudos to H-E-B for showing what it means to go above and beyond in times of need. To learn more, visit H-E-B’s Here, Everyone Belongs Podcast.

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