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Correction:

This article originally stated that Michael Hess works for Business Insider. His Wegmans piece appeared on Business Insider, but Hess actually works for BNet.

Wegmans: “Best company in the world”?

September 19, 2011 - 10:36 AM
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Anyone who’s ever been cornered at a party by a grocery fanatic from upstate New York knows that Wegmans has rabidly devoted shoppers. The nearly 100-year-old supermarket has earned the outspoken admiration of Alec Baldwin’s mom, lots of people on the Internet, and now Michael Hess of BNet, who declares the chain the “best company in the world.”

Strong statement, Hess acknowledges, but not misplaced. “The truth is, I don’t know how a company could be better,” he writes. What makes Wegmans so amazing in Hess’ mind?

1. Wegmans makes nearly $6 billion a year and is one of only a few hundred private companies in the U.S. reach the $1 billion mark.

2. Wegmans is nice to its workers, landing on those “Best Places to Work” lists yearly and offering scholarship assistance to employees.

3. Fancy displays, unique features, and lots of eat-in options have made Wegmans a destination grocery store.

4. Wegmans stays ahead of the curve on grocery trends, adopting bar codes, customer loyalty cards, and “buy local” before the competition.

5. Wegmans plays nice with the community. Philanthropy, involvement, donating rare lobsters, etc. means no one protests the opening of a Wegmans.

Ok, fine points, Michael Hess, and you don’t even mention the sandwiches. Even the Internet, where there’s someone to hate everything, offers little resistance to your argument—two sad little Facebook groups claim to “HATE Wegmans” but have garnered a combined four comments, two by the same guy. But the Market Report will offer you one irrefutable counterpoint to Wegmans’ perfection: lousy recipes.

 

Menu, Wegmans quarterly magazine, is admittedly rather nice (nice photography, nice paper) but displays a glaring flaw in its lame recipes. No cook could take seriously a recipe for Memphis Barbecue Bone-In Chicken Breasts that instructs one to grill Wegmans Lemon Garlic Split Chicken Breasts and then brush them with Wegmans Memphis-Style BBQ sauce.

Similarly, the recipe for Cedar-Plank Jerk Split Chicken calls for two packages of …Wegmans Jamaican-Style Jerk Split Chicken. Grilled Mojo Pork Tenderloin instructs the cook to grill one pound of Mojo Marinated Pork Tenderloin. There’s elementary, and then there’s insulting. And Menu is no free, promotional rag but a $4 publication with a robust editorial staff.

Is Wegmans the best company in the world? Who knows. Could it be better? Despite Hess’ claim that it could not, Menu’s sad, promotional recipes tell a different story.

 

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