Business in Focus: Publix Super Markets

February 3, 2020 | Business In Focus

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If you start a new business this year, can you imagine it still thriving in the year 2110? 90 years ago, George Jenkins opened the first Publix Food Store in Winter Haven, Florida. Today, the business thrives not because of ping pong tables or kombucha on tap, but because of the enduring philosophy of treating people with dignity and giving them a stake in the company’s success. The Publix Super Markets of 2020 is the largest employee-owned grocery chain in the United States fueled by over 200,000 dedicated women and men.

Jenkins’ philosophy of putting people first has landed Publix recognition as one of one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For 22 years in a row, the South’s Best Grocery Store by Southern Living magazine (2018), and No. 2 among the Top Companies for Social Responsibility by the Harris Poll (2017).

Currently, about 10% of Americans have an ownership stake in their workplaces like the one instituted at Publix in 1959.  By enabling employees to buy shares, Publix is helping its workers and communities raise their standard of living and simultaneously feel more invested in the success of the enterprise. Research suggests the employee-owned companies are more competitive and more resilient during economic downtowns.

That resiliency has community impact. Last year, Publix donated $5 million to Feeding America® adding to the more than $22 million contributed to hunger relief organizations over the last five years.  $2.5 million was also donated last year to support 121 Habitat for Humanity affiliates and 77 other organizations focused on shelter and housing services across the Southeast United States.

Once asked what he would be worth today if he hadn’t given so much away, George Jenkins immediately responded, “Probably nothing.” Kudos to Publix Super Markets for continuing the legacy of giving nine decades long. To read more about the culture and history of Publix, click here.

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