Hepfinger’s Departure Creates Renewed Focus At Weis Markets

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A new era has begun at Weis Markets following the resignation of chief executive officer David Hepfinger late last month. Jonathan Weis has added the CEO title to his duties on an interim basis and executive VP Kurt Schertle has also been given additional responsibilities at the Sunbury, PA-based regional chain.

Both Weis and Schertle also headlined the company’s fourth annual vendor summit held at the BWI Marriott on October 8.

“This summit of top vendors comes at a time of change for us at Weis Markets. We are now in our second century as an American-owned supermarket company. We remain proudly family-controlled and committed to a strong future of sales growth and geographic expansion,” Weis asserted. “We are committed to sales growth and we are mindful of the regionality of our business. We realize that our customers have different needs location by location – ethnic, urban, meat-and-potatoes, whatever. We understand that our model is to provide strong and attentive service at store level along with the brands and products that our customers want.

“Weis Markets is today a financially strong and growing public company with a generally solid and modern store base. We will continue to invest heavily in our support facilities and retail presence in order to stay current and on-trend. But what I want to most strongly emphasize here today is that we will continue our drive to transform to a sales-driven culture. Our competitors selling groceries are everywhere and many of them are very good at it. In order for us to continue to prosper we are depending on you for the tips and the expertise in your categories that will make us all successful. Again, we appreciate your attendance and value highly your critiques and recommendations. The Weis team is here to listen.”

Schertle told the approximately 500 sales reps, distributors and food brokers in attendance that, despite continuing challenging economic times, Weis Markets is determined to build sales by “investing in our future.” Specifically, Schertle outlined the retailer’s increased spending and focus in several key areas including IT infrastructure, customer service, fresh departments, and “meaningful localization,” a term he coined to describe developing plan-o-gram and merchandising strategies tailored to specific stores to meet the needs of the consumers in that trading area. He reiterated Jonathan Weis’ comment about becoming more of a sales-driven organization (a more in-depth overview of Schertle’s comments as well as those from VP-supply chain and logistics Wayne Bailey and VP-advertising, marketing and public relations Brian Holt can be read beginning on page ?? in the Taking Stock column).

While assuming the interim CEO role at Weis, the company his grandfather and grand-uncle founded in 1912, Jonathan Weis will remain vice chairman of the 164 store chain. His father, Robert Weis, will remain chairman.

With his departure as chief executive, Hepfinger has also resigned from Weis’ board of directors, effective September 23.

“We thank Dave for his service and contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Jonathan Weis, who will now also oversee the real estate/store development, finance and human resources teams.

Additionally, until the corporate reorganization is complete, Schertle, executive VP of sales and merchandising, will also supervise store operations and its operations support team.