Equity Talks

Employee-friendly Texas grocer adds equity to list of company perks

Employee-friendly Texas grocer adds equity to list of company perks

Central Market Lovers
As H-E-B employees, those who work at Central Market now are eligible for equity. Photo courtesy of Central Market

Texas grocery retailer H-E-B (which also includes the Dallas-based Central Market) recently announced it is giving employees equity in the company. The goal? To empower and inspire them.

A New York Times article explains that workers — or partners, which is what H-E-B calls them — will receive non-voting shares valued at 3 percent of their salary, in addition to $100 in stock for each year of ongoing service.

Under the plan, workers are able to cash out when they leave or retire from the company, and will also receive dividends based on the retailer’s earnings,” writes the Times’ Hiroko Tabuchi.

Partners qualify if they are over the age of 21 and have worked at least 1,000 hours at H-E-B in a year. That currently applies to 55,000 employees, which is 15 percent of the entire company.

“Employees in Mexico are not eligible, for now, because federal laws that set standards for pension and health plans do not apply there,” Tabuchi writes.

Started by Florence Butt in 1905 in Kerrville, Texas, H-E-B has grown to a multibillion-dollar company with more than 350 stores in the United States and Mexico. Today, Butt’s grandson Charles runs the business, which is now based in San Antonio and has a reputation for taking care of its employees.

Forbes contributor Roger Dooley called H-E-B “the smartest supermarket you never heard of” in 2014, commending the company for its low prices, feel-good atmosphere, and friendly employees. We can attest to that.

“I learn life lessons of how to be a better person from the leadership of H-E-B almost every day,” says Leslie Sweet, H-E-B director of public affairs in Central Texas. “And here comes another big learning — give people your trust, responsibility, and generosity and expect good results to come.”

She says that this new benefit will make the company stronger. “It will make us more educated about our business and more personally invested in making H-E-B the best place to shop,” she says. “H-E-B partners are passionate about two things: taking care of our families and taking care of our customers. This employee stock plan will help us do both.

“I’ve had calls from friends asking me what’s going on in our stores because they are seeing the contagious excitement and energy from our partners,” Sweet adds. “We’re loving the early Christmas present.”