Retiring grocery store owner to give stores to his employees

It’s easy to see the worst case scenario business leaders who are all about themselves. Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, Jack Welch come to mind, but there are plenty of others who are certain that the world revolves around them. And considering how much money the government has thrown at them, they might be right.

Fortunately there are plenty of good people as well.

Lots of people have been talking about the founder, and former CEO of Costco, James Sinegal as an example of an executive who understood that the success of the business wasn’t just about him. After years of having jerks like Blankfein and Dimon in our faces, it’s refreshing to hear about successful bosses that treat their team with respect.

Joe Lueken is one example of good people.  He has run grocery stores in Minnesota and North Dakota, and will soon be – so in January, he begins the process of passing ownership to his employees. He received offers from the big stores and he turned down those offers. What a nice way to bring in the new year.

Star Tribune:

“My employees are largely responsible for any success I’ve had, and they deserve to get some of the benefits of that,” Lueken said earlier this week. “You can’t always take. You also have to give back.”

Employees say Lueken’s decision, which won’t require them to pay anything for their shares in the business, multiplied the high esteem they already held for their boss.

“He’s rockin’ awesome,” said Svare, 41, who started at Lueken’s in 2009 and worked up to front-end manager.

“He chose to protect his people,” she said. “Being owners will make us care more about our work. It gives you something to call your own and gives you a more comfortable retirement to look forward to.”

Click through to the store’s website, which is also announcing the new plan. Very cool.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    The Cosco link was weird. Did I miss something?

  • Phil

    Two hugely successful chains started out using this model: Publix and Hy-Vee. Both come out on top of surveys in terms of quality and service. I’ve shopped at both of them when I lived in their respective markets. Both are regional forces-to-be reckoned with in the business. Best of luck to them.

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