By - February 1, 2019

John Hawthorne — Director of Loss Prevention & Safety


John will celebrate his 35th anniversary with Publix this month. He was hired Feb. 8, 1984. He began his career as a front service clerk at #14, Plant City, Florida, now #1212. He worked his way up to assistant store manager before taking a job as a Lakeland Division loss prevention specialist in 1998. Since then, he held several positions in loss prevention before being promoted to his current role.

Where were you born?

Port Hueneme, California — I’m the son of a U.S. Navy Master Chief, so it’s fitting I was born on a naval base.

What did you want to be when you were little?

I wanted to fly fighter jets.

What brought you to Publix?

The best things sometimes have the humblest beginnings. I was a 16-year-old kid who needed a job. I never left, except when I took a leave of absence to serve in the military during the Gulf War.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working with dedicated folks like the ones we have in the loss prevention and safety department is by far the best part of my job. We have great associates who show up with a passion for the safety and security of our associates and customers. We also preserve profits by helping to control shrink.

Who is your role model?

My dad — he was the hardest working, most authentic and honest person I’ve ever known. He was a servant leader with a big heart for people. Being like the best parts of my dad is a lifetime goal for me.

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What do you enjoy most about working at Publix?

I enjoy the culture we have here. Perpetuating our culture is such a big responsibility for each of us as Publix owners. It makes me very proud when I see associates demonstrating it in their actions and in their work product.

What’s your favorite Publix product?

I can’t be left alone with our Publix Deli Fried Chicken or Publix Premium Cherry Nut Ice Cream because I’ll eat it all!

What’s your work philosophy?

I try to be authentic in everything I do. It builds trust, which is the foundation of any good relationship. I strive every day to be an example of good work ethic.

What’s one thing on your bucket list?

I want to swim with the biggest fish in the world: a whale shark!

What’s your proudest moment?

I have so many, but most recently, a district manager in our Atlanta Division unexpectedly asked me to promote a grocery team leader to assistant grocery manager during an Associate Appreciation Visit. The associate was so surprised, and his reaction brought tears to the eyes of almost everyone in the room. It was a perfect and unforgettable Publix family moment I was extremely proud to be a part of.

Personally, my proudest moment was walking my daughter down the aisle last year. She’s one special lady.

What is your favorite movie?

That’s easy — Cool Hand Luke!

What music are you listening to right now?

I’m a music omnivore. My playlists are all about good songs regardless of genre. I enjoy classic rock.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy boating, fishing, scuba diving and shooting at the range.

What’s your favorite sports team?

Always and forever, good times or bad, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Go Bucs!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I enjoy when I have a few hours here and there where I can be alone on my boat — anchored somewhere quiet with a couple of fishing poles.

What’s your advice to someone just starting their Publix career?

Get in it for the long haul. Learn the job you have and choose to be very good at it. Once you have that down, figure out what you want to do next, and go for it! Spend your time preparing for the next role by listing its job qualifications, and focus on those you need to work on. And remember to be patient. Experience is counted just like knowledge and education. It’s all valuable!