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2013 Power 50: Joseph Colalillo, No. 3 in Wholesalers

Joseph Colalillo
Joseph Colalillo

Joseph Colalillo stays in touch.

Wakefern Food Corp.’s chairman and CEO knows the value of communicating with customers, and he’s just as adamant about keeping in contact with each Wakefern retailer-member. That’s no easy feat since members operating ShopRite and Price Rite stores are spread across several states.

Traveling to meet personally with every co-op member yearly, Colalillo encourages entrepreneurial spirit, and urges members to think about the future, especially about succession, those close to Colalillo pointed out. Long-term planning is his forte and he aims to imbue members with its importance.

While he values face-to-face contact, Colalillo also has been quick to take advantage of the convenience technology offers. For instance, he has encouraged ShopRite customers to do their grocery shopping online, and he aims to make it easy for customers to communicate with their retailer via mobile devices.

“We recognize that more and more, our customers are migrating online and to the convenience of their mobile devices,” Colalillo told SN. “This is an area that we will continue to look to offer our customers the best of what ShopRite has to offer.”


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When Colalillo took over the lead post after Tom Infusino retired in 2005, Colalillo said he would continue Infusino’s long-term strategy of being ready to take on the competition everywhere anytime. He has stuck to that vow.

“Staying ahead of our competition is our greatest challenge. That means we have to get better at what we do every day. Better at keeping product on the shelf, better at serving our customers, better at training and engaging our associates,” Colalillo said recently. “Creating a customer experience that exceeds our customers’ needs and expectations is a daily goal. On a member-by-member basis, we challenge ourselves to get better.”

It must be working because even as competition gets tougher, Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern posted a 6.4% gain at the end of its fiscal year, bringing retail sales to $13.6 billion.

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In addition to his role at Wakefern, Colalillo is president of three ShopRite stores in New Jersey, and serves on the board of state and national trade groups.

“The impact of legislation and regulation is greater today than ever before,” Colallio said. “We’ll continue to work closely with our trade associations to ensure that our industry’s voice is heard on a broad range of issues.”

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