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How Kenny Family Stores Support Employees’ Dreams

Here’s how Kenny Family ShopRites creates a familial connection and encourages its employees to follow their dreams.

It’s an amazing thing to see the Kenny Family Store credo in action. Delaware Supermarkets Inc./Kenny Family ShopRite may have over 1,200 employees spread throughout the greater Delaware area, but the company has always operated like a close-knit family business, fully supporting every member of the team.

The first Kenny Family ShopRites were opened in 1995 by Bernie Kenny, and the chain now boasts six stores across Northern Delaware. Staffed by three generations of the Kenny family, it’s easy to understand why the stores have such a welcoming and supportive atmosphere.

The family believes in working with and investing in people who have goals and dreams for their lives.

Luis Ortiz

When Luis Ortiz started working at the ShopRite in Concord, DE, in 1999, he had no big plans for the future.

“To be honest with you, this was just supposed to be a pit stop,” Ortiz laughs. “When I got this job, I was only in junior high. This was my first job!”

His mother was working hard, and he didn’t want to have to ask her for spending money.

“I may not have known what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to do something,” remembers Ortiz. “I wanted to work to have money in my pocket. I just had to figure out what I wanted to do.”

ShopRite hired him as a bagger, and he worked hard in that role through high school.

“I graduated high school, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but what I didknow was that ShopRite was always good to me. People just cared. So I stayed on.”

Ortiz built relationships over the years with his co-workers and managers, watching what they did, how they worked in their departments, and learning everything he could from them.

“I went from a bagger to a cart guy. Then a cart guy to a clerk. From a clerk to non-foods, etc.  I needed to figure out what was next. I knew that to grow, I’d have to go full-time. If that opportunity didn’t happen, I knew I’d have to go somewhere else if I wanted to succeed.”

That opportunity came around in 2005 when a co-worker retired and moved to Texas, opening up a full-time position. Knowing that full-time was a highly prized spot, Ortiz wasn’t sure how to stand out. This is where he credits ShopRite for helping him once again.

“The company worked with me to give me the shifts and experience that would help me prove myself. I worked hard during the next two years, and in 2007, I finally got full-time.”

2007 was great for Ortiz for other reasons; he met a lovely woman who also worked at ShopRite, and in 2008, they were married. In 2011, he focused on becoming a manager. In 2013, he was promoted to frozen food manager before being promoted again to dairy.

“People will say, ‘Oh, you just work in a grocery store.’ And I say proudly, ‘Yes. I do!’ And I make the same great money I’d make somewhere else. I work so hard at ShopRite because they took care of me. If you put in the effort and the hard work, they will do whatever it takes to help you succeed. If it wasn’t for my career at ShopRite, I wouldn’t be able to go to Puerto Rico every year. I wouldn’t be able to take my son to Disney every year. I wouldn’t have my own house.”

He pauses.

“If it wasn’t for this place, I don’t know what I’d be doing with my life today.”

RELATED: How Delaware Supermarkets Inc. is Leading the Way for Employee Relations 

Sean Pettiway

An incident that happened in the late 1990s, when ShopRite Loss Prevention Lead Sean Pettiway was just a teenager, changed his life forever, setting the stage for what would become his career.

“I was living in New York with my mom. When I was about 17 or 18, we’d gone grocery shopping. My mom was walking around the store, filling up the cart. I was just being a teen, following her. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed this guy who seemed to be following us. I kept noticing him showing up in nearly every aisle we were in. My mom didn’t notice him at all, but I was just aware that he was everywhere we went.”

When they got to the checkout counter, Pettiway’s mother asked him to run back and get one last item she’d forgotten. The young Pettiway didn’t want to leave his mother’s side because the man who’d been following them made him feel uneasy. He ran to get the missing item and brought it back to his mother. When his mother reached into her handbag to get her money, there was nothing there: her wallet was gone.

“I instantly knew what happened,” Pettiway recalls. “I took off running through the store looking for the guy. I ran outside, I ran everywhere, but I couldn’t find him. I was so angry, so upset at what my mother had just gone through. The thief knew to strike when my mother was her most vulnerable when I wasn’t there. And at that moment, I knew that I didn’t want that to happen to another person.”

Pettiway has been in loss prevention ever since. After long stints in the loss prevention departments of major retailers like Nordstroms, Rite Aid, and Walmart, Pettiway joined ShopRite in 2017. He credits the stores’ encouraging atmosphere with allowing him to become acclimated quickly to what makes grocery store loss prevention different.

“Working loss prevention at a grocery store is a completely different mindset than the one you need to work the same department at a retailer like Walmart or Nordstroms,” says Pettiway. “I love that ShopRite gave me time to tweak and adjust my experience so that I could tailor it more to what they needed. Marshall, my first supervisor, gave me a lot of praise as he saw what I was bringing to the table. He and everyone else encouraged me to go big and do what I needed to succeed. The company is really good at encouragement.”

After working as a loss prevention detective, Pettiway was promoted to Loss Prevention Lead, heading up his own store’s team at ShopRite’s Bear, Delaware location. He works in tandem with the property managers, department managers, and all the other store leads to help mitigate losses at the store. He’s looking forward to continuing to be a part of the ShopRite family.

“Working with ShopRite is a collaboration. You bring your all to the table, and they’ll meet you there.”

*What’s this? This content is made possible by our sponsor and does not necessarily reflect the attitude, views, or opinions of the Delaware Today editorial staff.

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