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January 11, 2005
Grocer Tops 2005 'Best Places to Work for' List
Wegmans Food Markets, a four-state chain of grocery stores based in Rochester, New York, tops Fortune magazine's eighth annual "100 Best Companies to Work For" list.

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In announcing the list Monday, Fortune noted that Wegmans has an unusual motto: "Employees first, customers second." The rationale behind it? When employees are happy, customers will be too.

The magazine also called Wegmans "that rare breed: a grocer beloved by its employees--and one that is also trouncing competitors in a very tough industry."

Wegmans "has proved adept at battling the intractable problem facing grocery stores in this country: There's no compelling reason to shop there anymore," according to Fortune writer Matthew Boyle. "Privately held Wegmans--which had 2004 sales of $3.4 billion from 67 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia--has long been a step ahead."

The list and related stories appear in Fortune's January 24 issue, on newsstands January 17 and at www.Fortune.com now. (See the links below.)


The top 10

No. 2 on the Fortune list is W.L. Gore, the privately held maker of Gore-Tex fabric. The magazine reports that when it comes to managing employees, the Newark, Delaware-based company does things a little differently. For example, workers evaluate fellow team members each year to determine compensation.

Thanks to a boom in homebuying last year, customer service reps at No. 3 Republic Bancorp received $10,000 in bonuses; nearly half of non-management employees at the Owosso, Michigan-based mortgage banker were awarded stock, and all employees got stock options.

No. 4 Genentech, of South San Francisco, launched three new drugs from June 2003 to February 2004, and celebrated by throwing a lavish party for all employees and their guests--with Elton John as the entertainment.

San Jose-based Xilinx, a supplier of programmable chips, is No. 5 on the list. One of every five employees holds a patent and all employees receive stock options upon hire. Last year's profit-sharing bonus was 9.2% of salary, according to Fortune.

Rounding out the top ten are:

  • J.M. Smucker (No. 6), where complimentary bagels and muffins are served every day;

  • S.C. Johnson & Son (No. 7), where workers in the manufacturing division are given performance reviews by peers, not management;

  • Griffin Hospital (No. 8), which offers family-style kitchens with meal service, strolling musicians, chair massages--and no fluorescent lighting;

  • Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird (No. 9), which has an end-of-the-week cocktail hour; and,

  • Vision Service Plan (No. 10), which allows employees to extend special discounts on eye-care services and eyewear to four friends of their choice.


Separating the large, small, and mid-size

In addition to its general list, Fortune this year has created three other lists, featuring large, mid-size, and small companies. There are 37 large companies on the list, 34 mid-sized companies, and 29 small companies.

Also included is a "Hall of Fame," a list of 22 companies that have appeared on every list since the list began in 1998. Those companies are A.G. Edwards, American Cast Iron Pipe, Cisco Systems, FedEx, First Horizon National, Four Seasons Hotels, Goldman Sachs, J.M. Smucker, Marriott International, MBNA, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Publix Super Markets, Recreational Equipment (REI), SAS Institute, Synovus, TDIndustries, Timberland, Valassis, W.L. Gore, Wegmans Food Markets, and Whole Foods Market.

"The 100 Best Companies to Work For" list is compiled for Fortune by Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz of the Great Place to Work Institute in San Francisco, based on two criteria: an evaluation of the policies and culture of each company, and the opinions of the company's employees. The latter is given more weight; two-thirds of the total score comes from employee responses to a 57-question survey which goes to a minimum of 350 randomly selected employees from each company. It asks about things such as attitudes towards management, job satisfaction, and camaraderie within the organization. The remaining one-third of the score is based on an evaluation of each company's demographic makeup, pay and benefits programs, and culture. Companies are scored in four areas: credibility (communication to employees), respect (opportunities and benefits), fairness (compensation, diversity), and pride/camaraderie (philanthropy, celebrations).

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