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Save-On-Foods salutes its people

The grocer recognized service milestones of 132 head office team members at annual celebration
Save-On-Foods' president Darrell Jones at the Service Awards

At its annual Langley Office Service Awards last Friday, Save-On-Foods loudly and proudly celebrated team members from its head office. With a theme of “We Will Rock You” the lively event, staged at the Coast Hotel and Convention Centre in Langley, B.C., recognized the service of 132 of Save-On-Foods’ “rock stars” – team members marking milestones ranging from five years to an incredible 40 years working for the grocery chain.

At the Service Awards each recipient was recognized with a tribute that was more personalized the longer their years of service.

“I’ve never been so proud to lead a team of people as I am today,” Darrell Jones, the company’s president said kicking off the event. Jones acknowledged that Save-On-Foods’ team members were the foundation of the company. “And boy oh boy has our team been busy, especially in the last seven years," he said. "You know we focused on growth and I attribute the growth through Western Canada and up as far North as the Yukon to each and every one of our 20,000 team members.”

Save-On-Foods is, indeed, having a growth spurt. Over the past seven years, Jones said the company had doubled its business and boosted its store count by 42%, including the opening of nine new stores this year alone, bringing to 176 the number of stores in its network. “We’ve seen more changes in the past seven years than we’ve seen in our 104-year history,” said Jones, noting the implementation of restaurants, the introduction of wine departments and the rollout of e-commerce as examples. “We’re investing millions in new systems from finance to merchandising to inventory management to supply chain and the most important investment we’ll make is in you, the people.”

At the Langley office Service Awards, team members marking five and 10 years of service were invited to a special VIP reception with the company’s vice-presidents and Jones, to give senior leadership an opportunity to get to know the company's up-and-coming leaders.

Those marking longer service milestones of 35 and 40 years, took part in a grand entrance parade and were the subject of tribute videos where friends and family shared personal stories—both touching and humorous—and congratulated recipients.

Twin brothers Terry and Tony Piwek, had the distinction of being the longest-serving team members being recognized at the event, each having racked up 40 years with the company. Terry, general manager of retail services and customer experience, and Tony, general manager of e-commerce, both began their careers with the company at the former Cooper's Foods banner in Kamloops, B.C. Incidentally, Brian Piwek, the twins' brother, served as president of Save-On-Foods, which at the time was called Overwaitea Food Group, from 1991 to 1997.

Although the biggest Service Awards within the Save-On-Foods organization, about 500 team members and guests were in attendance, the Langley event is just one of many annual celebrations. Each fall, every one of the company's 176 stores holds its own Service Awards event. In 2019, across all of the stores and head office, a total of 1,880 team members were recognized for their years of service.

Heidi Ferriman, vice-president of people and communications at Save-On-Foods and an emcee at the event, said the Service Awards tradition, which goes back almost 40 years, has become more important as the company has grown over the years from a single storefront in New Westminster, B.C. to its 176 stores today.

The staging of the annual Service Awards is no small expense, but at a time when many retailers struggle with staff retention, Save-On-Foods sees the importance of investing in its people. "Celebrating people has always been a long-standing tradition at Save-On-Foods. It's a big part of our culture because we know very well that without our people, we wouldn't have this amazing company that feeds millions of Western Canadians and supports our communities when they need it most," said Ferriman.




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