By - September 1, 2018

Be Prepared for Opportunity


Mr. George taught us to be prepared for opportunity. It would seem he was teaching the importance of having the training and skills necessary to build your career at Publix — but what if that wasn’t the only point?

What if the point was to also be looking for opportunities — every day — where you can be of service to someone else?

The stories below are not unique. Each day, similar stories are submitted to our customer care department. We’ve highlighted one store manager from each division who took ordinary, everyday situations and — because they were prepared for the opportunity to serve — demonstrated our culture of service to our customers and associates.

Lost and Found

A story of how one bunny escaped a terrifying fate in our Jacksonville Division.

After shopping at #1362, Daphne, Alabama, a customer realized her 3-year-old’s best friend, a beloved stuffed rabbit named Bunny, was missing. Fearing Bunny was left in the cart, she reached out to the store. After learning no one had spotted the toy, she recruited some help on a local Facebook page.

The post was shared over 1,500 times with countless comments left sharing similar heart-wrenching stories of missing childhood toys and everyone wishing for Bunny’s safe return. The plea for help was spotted by another Publix store manager in our Charlotte Division. He shared the post with #1362’s Store Manager Mike Gayhart.

“He sent me a screenshot of the post, and that got my wheels turning,” explained Mike. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to demonstrate the Publix culture to my associates and show how we go above and beyond for our customers — treating them like royalty.”

Mike and his associates traced Bunny’s movements using CCTV. They watched as the abandoned Bunny was placed in the trash.

“I knew the trash was put into the compactor, and it hadn’t been picked up yet,” explained Mike. “So, I scheduled an off-cycle pickup.”

Bunny tumbled through the compactor into a dumpster and left in a garbage truck bound for the landfill. Mike and his team of associates — Assistant Store Manager Bobby Banhart, Customer Service Team Leader Alex Chandonet and Customer Service Staff Jordan Torres De La Rosa — jumped into action. They rolled up their sleeves, put on some gloves, and with the landfill’s permission, sifted through five days of trash. An hour later, they located Bunny nestled in a bag inside another bag.

“He wasn’t as dirty as he could have been,” explained Mike. “I took him home, and my wife washed him several times to get the smell out.”

Bunny’s 3-year-old owner, Maddie, was overjoyed to be reunited with her friend. “She has had Bunny since she was born, and he goes everywhere with her,” shared Maddie’s mother.

“She hasn’t let him go since this journey. This is a true example of the good people in the world! They have such kindness and go above and beyond for their community.”

Landfill Reunited

What’s in a name?

A new customer in our Charlotte Division explains how it helped her make the switch to Publix.

Renee and her 4-year-old daughter first discovered Publix when they visited #1474, Cornelius, North Carolina, after church. On her first trip to Publix, she met Store Manager Bill Slevin.

“I had no idea he was the store manager. I am not used to seeing grocery store managers walking around at my usual grocery store. I always assume they are in an office,” she explained.

“He was so nice. He helped us figure out the best way to get our lunch meat and showed me how I could use the Publix app to speed up my trips.”

It wasn’t long after that initial trip that Renee returned to the store.

“When we went back, my daughter remembered Bill, and much to my surprise, he remembered her name too.”

Bill asked how they were doing and took the time to listen to the answer.

“While this Publix isn’t the most convenient for us, we always make a point to shop at #1474 because of Bill,” Renee said. “His kindness, personality and care are echoed by his associates.”

As a single mother, Renee sometimes worries about her limited income. “It can be hard to afford everything my daughter needs, and sometimes I know I could possibly find the item cheaper somewhere else. But I am always willing to pay more to shop where we’re treated so well. The service makes it worth it!

“My daily life as a single-parent is stressful, but Bill and his associates provide a welcome relief with their friendly smiles and exceptional service.”

Renee has told her experience to co-workers, family and friends. While most of them were loyal to their grocery stores, they’ve all made the switch to Publix.

“I couldn’t keep my experience a secret. When you find this level of service, it should be shared.”

You can’t spell success without U.

Store Manager Richard Reynolds, #703, Plantation, Florida, sets an associate up for success in our Miami Division.

Richard hired Alan Shore, a front service clerk, earlier this year. Knowing Alan was hearing impaired, he worked diligently to make sure he was set up for success. So, when Alan arrived for his training, Richard made sure to have two sign language interpreters ready to participate in the process.

Alan’s family was impressed by the inclusiveness.

“We’re so appreciative of the opportunity provided to Alan to fit in,” his sister said. “We’re so moved by Publix and their commitment to diversity.

Mr. Reynolds looked beyond the challenges to bring on board a new hire with special needs. Not only did he hire my brother, but he provided him with the tools to be successful.”

When it rains, it pours.

A rainy day in our Lakeland Division offered an opportunity to provide exceptional service.

After only a week out of the hospital, a couple in their late 70s ventured to their local Publix, #398, Tampa, Florida.

“We’ve practically shopped there every day since it opened,” they explained. In their time at the store, they’ve come to know Store Manager Justin Wolfe. During a recent trip, they were visiting with Justin when it began pouring outside.

“It was a heavy Florida rain,” the wife said. “While we finished the conversation, I reached for my umbrella. That’s when I realized I had left it in the car.”

Justin didn’t hesitate. He grabbed an umbrella and helped them to the curb.

“We thought he was just going to help us get to our car but then he asked us for our keys,” she said. “He pulled the car right up to the curb, loaded our groceries, and helped my husband and I get into  the car. We didn’t even get wet. Justin wasn’t quite so lucky.”

Service to spare

On Christmas Eve, this Atlanta Division store manager kept a customer’s holiday rolling.

Ben Robb

Early in the morning, then-Store Manager Ben Robb, #1218, Harvest, Alabama, learned a customer needed assistance in the parking lot. When Ben arrived, he found a very upset elderly woman with a flat tire. The customer explained how she lived alone and didn’t have anyone who could help her. Ben assured her he would take care of it and began changing the tire. He removed the spare tire from the trunk and placed it on the hub.

Both were disappointed to discover the spare tire was also flat. But Ben refused to let the flat spare tire deflate their spirits. He took the spare to the gas station across the street with hopes it would hold air. Much to their surprise, it did!

The customer was so appreciative she offered to pay Ben for going out of his way. But as Ben explained, “I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. I only did what I hope someone would have done for my own mother in the same situation.”

He went on to say, “It just goes to show you how much the little things we do for each other can make such a huge impact on someone’s life.”

Ben considers himself fortunate the opportunity presented itself, and he could help. “We should be there in the moment to take care of our customers and fellow associates. It’s what Publix is all about.”

Ben continues to seek out opportunities to go above and beyond for his customers in his current role as store manager at #574, Huntsville, Alabama.