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01_Publix Lakeland_Image 1If you’ve ever shopped at a Publix Super Market before, it’s likely that you know the grocery chain originated in Winter Haven, Florida. What you may not know is that Publix headquarters were never in Winter Haven.

In 1930, George W. Jenkins, the late founder of Publix Super Markets Inc., opened his first store called Publix Food Store in Winter Haven. In 1935, he opened a second location across town. In 1940, he closed both of these food stores to open his dream store known as Publix Super Market.

01_PublixLakeland_Body Image 2At the time, Publix’s main supplier of goods was the Lakeland Grocery Company. In 1945, the Lakeland Grocery Company was put up for sale, and Mr. George knew this would be the perfect opportunity to expand his business, so he negotiated a deal to buy the company. This negotiation included not only the Lakeland Grocery Company’s warehouse, but its 19 small retail stores and all its employees as well. Of course, Mr. George said that the best part of the deal was all the wonderful employees who became part of the Publix family.

In 1950, just five short years after the big purchase,  Publix outgrew the old Lakeland Grocery Company warehouse and looked for property where a larger facility could be built. After purchasing land in west Lakeland near U.S. 92, the construction of a new warehouse and office complex began. One year later, in February of 1951, construction was completed and the warehouse was ready for business.

The 125,000 square-foot warehouse was cited as the most modern structure of its kind in the United States. It was beautifully designed with the same art-deco architecture as the Publix stores of the 1950s. But what was most impressive was the mechanization of the warehouse operation.

Now, most people would think01_PublixLakeland_Body Image 4 that any successful company with a warehouse as large and efficient as this one would be set for the next 50 years, but I think we can all agree that Publix is no ordinary successful company. Publix once again outgrew this space and needed to find a way to expand the 01_PublixLakeland_BodyImage 5complex in order to accommodate its increase in stores. In 1967, Publix added office space to the front of the building, which expanded the entry and lobby, as well as both ends of the building. The expansion also created more warehouse space. For many years, this building housed all of Publix’s corporate departments, from accounting and payroll to purchasing and advertising. But again, the company’s growth led to the need for more office space.

 

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At the end of 2001, Publix broke ground on a new corporate office building in Lakeland that would create office space for approximately 1,200 associates. The 325,000 square-foot building was completed in 2002. While most corporate departments relocated to this new facility, several still occupy the original building.

We love to share our proudest moments in history with our fans. Now that we have, we want to know which memorable moments we have in common. Were you around during the construction of one of the manufacturing plants? Maybe you were there for a new store opening? No matter how big or small the event was, we want to hear about it! Share with us in the comments below.

Jennifer B.

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Jennifer B. has been with Publix since 1980, when she started working part time in high school. She has held positions of Assistant Director of public relations and Director of media relations, but her current role as the Company Historian is the highlight of her career. She loves sharing Publix trivia, telling stories about Mr. George and solving Publix’s history mysteries. In her life outside of Publix, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband and catering to the whims of their cat Jackson, who is master of all he surveys.

2 Comments on “History of Publix Headquarters

  1. Tracey Browning

    I remember walking around the construction site when Publix upgraded their ice cream / milk production refrigeration units in Lakeland. My daddy’s company, RS Insulation, was contracted to take care of the refrigeration needs, including the huge doors. After the work was done, my sisters and I got a tour of the milk and ice cream processing units and got to walk in the freezers. I moved to Atlanta for college in 1986, then moved to Raleigh, NC in 1993, just as Publix was entering the Atlanta market. It’s been a VERY long time (32 years to be exact) that I’ve waited to shop at Publix for my groceries again. But, I’m happy to report my waiting has paid off ! Publix is currently building a brand new store 7 minutes from my home. Y’all may refer to this store as the Leesville Rd.-Raleigh Publix, but in my house, it’s called “Tracey’s Publix”. See you when the doors open!

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