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Danny Wegman

  • Power 50 Ranking: 8
  • Title: CEO
  • Company: Wegmans Food Markets
  • Key Developments: Adjusting to the economy while continuing expansion.
  • What's Next: Continued new store builds, including expansion to Massachusetts.

Danny Wegman - Power 50 Profile

In a recent interview, Danny Wegman admitted that the severity of the economic downturn took him by surprise.

“The signs [of a downturn] were there, but we kept wondering whether it was us, or the weather, or something else,” the chief executive officer of Wegmans Food Markets told the Gannett newspaper group.

What’s not surprising is the swiftness and creativity with which Wegman would react once the crisis was upon him. Wegmans late last year moved to cut prices on hundreds of items in anticipation that its own costs would fall once manufacturers factored in the falling commodity and fuel costs that came along with the recession. The chain estimated these extended discounts would amount to $12 million a year in shelf-price savings for customers.

“During difficult times like these, it’s OK with us if we make a little less money,” Danny Wegman said in a statement.

Today, Wegmans remains focused on prices — and on price as an element within the creative confines of Wegmans stores. Colleen Wegman, Danny’s daughter and president of Wegmans, said her father has brought the same passion, creativity and high standards to dealing with the recession that he brought to reinventing what a grocery store could be.

“My dad has always had a unique view on the world, and that’s part of what’s led to his success,” Colleen Wegman told SN. “He looks at things a little differently than most people. That comes back to his desire for improvement — reaching new heights, trying new things.

“He’s always the same,” she added. “He has the confidence to bring himself to every situation — you could say that’s his style.”

Colleen Wegman said the chain is “focused on helping people get dinner on the table in healthy, affordable ways.”

“People have changed how they are living and their purchasing habits,” she added. “They are looking in our stores for ways to save money.”

Wegmans’ 73rd store opened this spring in Fredericksburg, Va., and another will open in Collegeville, Pa., this fall. The company confirmed it will open in Massachusetts for the first time, but its first stores there could be more than a year away.

— Jon Springer