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2012 Power 50: No. 6 Ed Crenshaw

Ed Crenshaw stays on target.

His unwavering attention to core strategies is reflected in Publix’s earnings in fiscal 2011, which rose above 2010’s already-record-setting numbers.

After trimming some concepts earlier, Publix has put a tight focus this past year on its service-oriented grocery business, with special emphasis on service. The 1,046-unit, Lakeland, Fla.-based chain looks to strengthen relationships with its customers.

In tune with consumers’ increasing use of social media, Crenshaw oversaw the launch of Publix onto Facebook and YouTube this past year — a move he sees as particularly important because it brings the company closer to its customers.

“These interactive media have allowed us to continue a dialogue with our customers — from customer service experiences to what’s new in product offerings,” Crenshaw told SN. “The company’s weekly ads, too, are now available on smartphone applications.”

Besting last year’s record earnings is impressive in a still-tough economy, and the company will forge ahead with plans to expand some concepts — such as its hybrid stores — that dovetail with its core business objectives.

While the Publix hybrid store was launched in late 2010, the company opened one in Atlanta in 2011, and another in Viera, Fla., earlier this year.

Crenshaw pointed out that the Publix hybrid stores fulfill a need with their unique mix of traditional products and large selection of natural and organic products.

“Customers continue to look for a variety of earth-friendly, all-natural and organic products while seeking the traditional items on their shopping lists.”

Publix hybrid stores are getting a lot of attention in the industry, sources told SN.

“The new hybrid store format, which combines the best of Publix and Greenwise, is slowly beginning to roll out across markets as the company continues to expand within core markets and is also testing new markets,” said Neil Stern, senior partner, McMillanDoolittle, Chicago.

“Ed’s leadership is emblematic of the company’s culture — understated, steady but resolute in their plans,” Stern added.

Indeed, Crenshaw said the company is continuing to evaluate its overall business model.

“While some projects were placed on hold, we opened 29 stores [in the last year], some replacements of older stores, and remodeled 126,” he said. “Even in an often-turbulent economy, we continue to provide the best shopping experience and environment. Customer satisfaction is our priority.”

While he leads the company in the direction of more and better customer service, Crenshaw also has concentrated on sustainability and being green.

“Social responsibility is the life blood of our company,” he said.

“Our sustainability efforts have been significant over the years as we focus on conserving land resources, reducing our carbon footprint, and reducing water and electricity usage through the company’s Green Routine program. This is a team approach where all 150,000-plus associates have a part in this effort.”

As for expansion, Crenshaw told SN the focus right now is on growth in existing markets.


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