Marty Gardner, senior vice president of merchandising, distribution, manufacturing, food safety and pharmacy at Wegmans, will retire in May 2022, following a 40-year career with Wegmans.
“Marty has made a significant impact through his passion for excellence across every area of our company,” said Colleen Wegman, president and CEO of Wegmans Food Markets. “He cares deeply about helping all of us be our best and inspires a strong sense of responsibility, ensuring we’ve thought everything through and are doing the right thing.”
Gardner joined Wegmans as a night manager in 1982 at the Lyell Avenue store. From there, he held successive positions in merchandising, becoming vice president of meat and seafood merchandising in 1996, and was then promoted to senior vice president of merchandising seven years later. Over the past 19 years, Gardner has worked with merchandising areas for fresh foods, center store, Wegmans Brand and pharmacy, as well as operations for distribution, manufacturing, food safety and quality assurance.
Throughout his career, Gardner’s teams have implemented many important initiatives that keep Wegmans on the leading edge of the industry. With every project he worked on, he always emphasized high standards while keeping two important thoughts in mind: how can we help our people and how can we benefit our customers, the company said.
With respect to helping our people, Gardner always focused on simplifying processes and creating opportunities for employee development. He helped redefine the responsibilities of a category merchant so they could oversee one category across multiple departments. This industry leading move allowed Wegmans to have a merchant completely focused on customer needs across multiple departments, executing strategies in the departments that made the most sense. Wegmans merchant training positions were developed under his oversight, providing trainees the opportunity to master skills in multiple areas of the business. The program developed dozens of people, many of whom progressed into store manager, group manager, division manager and vice president roles, the company said.
“It’s important to respect the discipline and the process,” said Gardner, when asked about his philosophy on merchandising. “But the best efforts, and the biggest results, come from following your heart and your instinct, especially in instances where you do not have all the data.”
During his time as Wegmans Brand manager, Gardner’s team established a process for creating products that were unique, surveying customers to determine which products were most desirable. The vision was to create high-quality, affordable Wegmans branded products that customers would prefer. Items including WPOP, Wegmans ultra-soft diapers and ultimate chocolate chip cookies were all created as a result of this process. In recent years, Wegmans reinvested in their culinary and customer-focused product development process with its “Win Our Way In” program. Implemented under Gardner’s guidance by Nicole Wegman, president of Wegmans Brand, the program provides customers with the opportunity to provide feedback on new Wegmans products before they hit store shelves.
“When Marty was rolling out our Customer Focused Development process, he met with every merchant to deep root the principles, until it became second nature for all of us,” Nicole Wegman said. “Now the Customer Focused Development process is instrumental in ensuring we launch the very best Wegmans Brand items for our customers. I’m grateful for Marty’s commitment to helping us all be our best.”
In 2004, Gardner contributed to the creation and rollout of W-Retail. This dramatically improved store conditions by creating consistency between stores and introduced new products to store shelves faster. His team pioneered a new way of communicating with suppliers that streamlined work by putting the people responsible for each functional area in direct contact with their vendor counterparts. As a result of this initiative, Wegmans was recognized for six straight years as the best “Category Management” team in the industry, rated by suppliers. Wegmans also was recognized for having the “Clearest Company Strategy.”
Gardner advised on many industry initiatives including FMI’s Direct Product Profitability, leading the Wegmans’ team in Efficient Consumer Response, implementing “New Ways of Working Together” and perishable category management. Gardner served on the GS1 US Board of Governors for nine years.
“Marty will be greatly missed, and his legacy of high standards and caring will be a part of us forever,” Colleen Wegman said. “On behalf of all of us, we wish Marty the very best in his retirement.”