When asked to comment on what first comes to mind when the name Tom Zaucha is mentioned, Chuck Pilliter, senior vice president of Trader Joe's, said, “Bernadette.”
“She truly provides Tom with valuable perspective which at times may be contrary to Tom's initial position.”
In fact, many in the industry view the Zauchas as a team. For 43 years, Bernadette has provided the precise counterbalance Zaucha needed in evaluating the issues of the day.
“She has been a source of information and a real compass in terms of running ideas and getting honest feedback. She has kept me straight on what's right and wrong. She was a debater too,” Zaucha noted.
Bernadette also has a connection with the food industry. After coaching debate at a girls' high school in Virginia, she joined Giant Food as the public affairs manager and wrote speeches for Joe Danzanski, who was Giant's president at the time. She then became a certified public accountant and joined Arthur Andersen. “She was the first mother hired by the big firm,” said Zaucha.
She later launched a retail business that sold executive gift baskets.
“I see independent grocers and the food industry as a microcosm of all that is good about America,” she told SN. “Independent grocers are incredibly hard-working people who are willing to take great personal and financial risks to build a dream. They are remarkably generous to their communities and willing to share with their fellow grocers. They love what they do. They're tough. They have fun. And there are always new success stories.”