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Rick Stewart
Updated On: Jan 21, 2010

He’s retailer of the Year  -
and a Union member, too

    It isn’t often that a Union member wins an award from a grocery industry management organization. But it hap- pened to Susanville Super - market owner and UFCW 8 member Rick Stewart when he was chosen as the International Grocers Association’s United States Retailer of the Year.
    Stewart co-owns the store with his wife, Anna. Both are Union members.
    “One of the first things I did when I purchased the store in 1993 was to join the
    Union,” Stewart said. “I became a member before escrow closed, even though as owner, I had the right to be excluded.
    “I wanted to join because I know the bene- fits of Union membership from first hand experi-ence.”
    Stewart said those benefits came in handy when he and his wife had health problems many years ago.
    “We couldn’t have afforded the treatment we received, if not for our Union benefits,” he recalled. “They literally saved our lives.”
    “Stewart began his career in the food industry in 1975, when at the age of 16 he went to work as a Courtesy Clerk at a Shop and Save in his native Chico.
    “Following a five-year stint in the United States Navy, he returned to work at Save Mart in 1981. He rapidly rose through the ranks to become second assistant manager.
    “In 1986, he was employed at a wholesaler in Oklahoma City before returning to Northern California in 1993 to purchase the Susanville store.
    ““It was a great opportunity for us to come home,” Stewart said. “It also was a chance to own a store with a stable staff of Union members.”
    Stewart credits his staff for helping him win the award.
    ““I was truly humbled to be chosen for this honor,” he said. “But no one knows better than I do that the people who truly deserve this award are the employees of our store. It is their dedication and the pride they exhibit in serving our community that makes us successful.”
    “Stewart said maintaining a stable staff is also one of the keys to his business success.
    ““When you have Union benefits, workers are more likely to make
a career in the industry and stay at a store longer,” he said. “We have one employee who has been here for 42 years and about 20 percent of our staff has been here since I purchased the business.”

    Stewart looks forward to many more years of serving the community at his store, but he keeps a wary eye on the Walmart about a mile and a half down the road.
    “It’s not a Supercenter,” he said. “Yet they keep expanding their grocery aisles. You always have to be concerned, but with our staff and the personal service we provide, I believe we can be here for a long time.” UFCW 8-Golden State logo

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