ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Wegmans Food Markets (search), a grocery chain whose motto is "employees first, customers second," topped Fortune's eighth annual list of the best 100 companies to work for in America, the magazine said Monday.
The 89-year-old, family-owned business credited with helping pioneer "one-stop shopping," scored high marks on employee surveys of job satisfaction and communication with management, among the biggest factors in determining the list.
Runner-up was Gore-Tex fabric maker W.L. Gore (search) of Newark, Del., followed by Republic Bancorp (search), a mortgage banker in Ann Arbor, Mich., biotechnology giant Genentech Inc. (DNA) of South San Francisco, Calif., and Xilinx Inc. (XLNX), a chip-maker in San Jose, Calif.
Above-average employee satisfaction has been a lifelong goal, said Robert Wegman, the 86-year-old company chairman, who led the company to $3.4 billion in sales last year.
"I've been aiming for that for 54 years and it's taken a long while to hit the target but I've finally got there," he said. "It's hard for me to walk through a store without customers stopping me and saying, `Mr. Wegman, you've got a great store but, wow, are your people something else.'"
At Wegmans' 67 emporiums in four states, 32,800 workers are paid hourly wages at the high end of the market and offered a $3 per week health insurance premium, resulting in a 6 percent annual turnover rate among full-time employees, compared with a 19 percent rate among competitors.
Jam maker J.M. Smucker Co. (SJM), number six this year, topped 2004's list. The company cut 200 jobs in November.