By the time Store Manager Mike Dempsey opens Wegmans’ newest 126,000 sq. ft. supermarket in Hilltop Village Center (corner of Telegraph and Beulah) on Sunday, June 14, he will have built a team of 550 employees, who are ready to deliver the incredible customer service that Wegmans is known for. Treat employees with care and respect, Dempsey believes, and they’ll treat customers with that same care and respect. “It’s the ‘golden rule’ of great customer service.”
Dempsey had been a store manager previously, at the Lake Manassas Wegmans in Gainesville and the Potomac Wegmans in Woodbridge. When he was asked to be the Alexandria store manager, he jumped at the opportunity. “What’s new and unique at the Alexandria store is that it’s our first store in Virginia to include The Pub, Wegmans’ casual dining restaurant that serves freshly prepared seasonal foods and a large selection of craft beers, food-friendly wines, and seasonal cocktails.” There is also the Market Café with an endless selection of prepared foods and indoor and outdoor seating for 300.
Step back in time to 1994: Mike and his wife-to-be Charlene had just become engaged. Both were working full time but they wanted to build up their bank accounts, in view of what was coming up – a wedding, a place to live, and eventually, a family. So both took part-time jobs to earn extra dollars to “pay for the life ahead of us,” in Dempsey’s words. That’s how he found himself working part-time at Wegmans in Ithaca, NY.
“I never aimed to work in a grocery store. My college degree was in architectural engineering, and I had a full-time job in construction.”
Soon, though, he was rethinking career plans: “I was surrounded by great managers who spoke to me about a career with Wegmans.” He was enjoying his part-time job more than his “real” job. One day, a store manager sat down with him to discuss the company’s expansion plans. “I saw that Wegmans was a growing company and I began thinking seriously about leaving the construction industry.”
In his career with Wegmans, Dempsey has also become a genuine food enthusiast. “I am inspired to try new products and recipes so that I can teach our customers about healthier options for their families. I’ve gotten to like the flavors that go along with a healthier way of life.” Some favorites? Scallops, sushi, and summer foods like grilled lemon-pepper chicken with grilled vegetables, along with pear and provolone salad.
Alexandria is Wegmans’ 86th store, the 7th in Virginia. The company’s first VA store opened in 2004 in Sterling (Dulles). Today, Wegmans has more than 3,600 VA employees, and that number will grow next year when it opens two stores in Richmond and one in Charlottesville.
“Sunday morning can’t come soon enough,” says Dempsey. “Our employees are so excited to show their friends and family our store, and I can’t wait for our new customers to meet our employees. They are what sets us apart.”