Happy Amazon Prime Day!
In 1917, two Greek immigrants opened a small grocery store in Lowell, Massachusetts. Over-time this store grew to many large ones spreading throughout New England, and leadership was passed down to the next generation.
Despite the success of the business, there was a never-ending feud and law-suits over control and accusations of sabotage flew. Eventually the control handed in the hands of two cousins, Arthur S. and Arthur T. Demoulas. Though Arthur T. was president, Arthur S. had a slight majority in the stock, so the conflict continued.
now has more than seventy stores and employs more than twenty thousand people. By almost all accounts, Arthur T. ran the business like a family operation, employees were paid well and participated in profit sharing. Perhaps most important is that Arthur T. took an interest in them personally, knowing many employees by name and becoming familiar with their family circumstances. In turn, his employees treated the customers as family too, keeping prices low and quality high. Following the 2008 financial collapse, they even lowered their pricing by 4% with Arthur T. saying “Our customers need the money more than we do.
However, in June 2014 the family feud escalated with Arthur T.’s termination from the company. Then, something amazing happened. Many employees refused to go to work even at the risk of losing their jobs. Many customers joined in and refused to continue shopping at the store. Effectively, thousands of working-class Americans were rising up to support a Billionaire. The shelves grew emptier and after 2 months, Arthur T. bought out his rival relatives and was restored as president.
When asked to explain the broad support from customers and employees, Arthur T. said, “I think so many people could relate to it because it affects everyone. If everyone in the workplace is equal and treated with dignity, they work with a little extra passion, a little extra dedication. I think that’s a wonderful business message to the world.”
We find stories like this to be inspiring because they surprise us. We’re surprised at the level of dedication and commitment from those at the checkout counter, the baggers, the shelf-stockers, and we certainly don’t expect the people who own supermarkets to prioritize anything but the bottom line. Much like the inherent bonds that keep (most) families together, approaching your employees with an attitude of kinship and empathy can do more for your bottom line than any amount of pay could ever do.
🍺 to a great week ahead!