Sobeys Value Champions

Shawn Williams

Shawn Williams

Shawn won’t forget his first day on the job. It was a hot summer day and the water to the building had been shut off. “Sobeys had brought in a water tanker,” says Shawn. “We were filling up five-gallon buckets of water and bringing them into the store to fill up the toilets in the public bathrooms.” Shawn’s job has improved immensely since that day. Now a file maintenance clerk, Shawn has also gotten involved with charities that Sobeys supports. Last Christmas he created and sold a cookbook containing recipes from co-workers, raising about $1,000 that went to a family in need. “When it comes to giving back to the community, I’ll do anything I can to help,” says Shawn, who is proud of the team at Sobeys. “Whatever we can do for the community, we do. We love our customers. It’s a great store to be in and I’m proud to work there.”

Christopher Wilkes

Chris remembers well his first day on the job back in 1978. “I was asked to get a haircut. Twice,” laughs Chris. “Day one and day two. I got the haircut once and it wasn’t quite short enough so back to the barber for a second time.” Now Chris is the one teaching employees. “Chris is a huge role model and leader,” states the nomination letter. “He leads by example on a daily basis. He is the glue that holds the store together with his upbeat and positive attitude.” Chris regularly demonstrates the values of respect and integrity. For instance, when he saw two people begging in the store parking lot, he struck up a conversation. “They looked like they were hungry so I bought them some sandwiches and water, told them to take their time in the shade and enjoy their lunch.” Working for a company with similar values is gratifying, says Chris. “My Sobeys is a company that has been very good to me.”

Scott White

On a stormy day in January while Scott was out doing his cart run, he took it upon himself to start cleaning off employees’ and customers’ cars. He was outside for hours, going from one car to the next scraping off ice so that when the customer or fellow employee came out they could just jump in and take off. “I didn’t do it for recognition, I did it so people could come and not have to spend time in the cold cleaning off their cars,” says Scott. Scott has a great attitude and always greets everyone warmly. Many times a week he can be seen helping carry customers’ grocery bags to their cars or listening to a customer and doing his best to help them.

Steven Virtue

As a home delivery driver, Steve forges a unique relationship with his customers. “You get to know the customers well,” he says. “They become your friends after a while. They ask you to open up a jar or to put their groceries in the fridge.” For some customers, Steve is the only person they will see in a week. “It means a lot to them to see a friendly face come through the door.” He has dealt with a few emergencies, including discovering customers who had fallen and some who have needed medical attention. “I’ve called ambulances and stayed with the customer until it arrived.” Recently Steve has taken on a second job as a relief dispatcher, a role he enjoys. “I know the roads very well because I have travelled them so I am able to help out the drivers in certain situations. Being dispatcher means I have the opportunity to grow and to advance and that’s very important to me.”

Samuel Villemure

Sam had extra reason to be nervous on his first day working at Sobeys four years ago. “My sister works there too and I’m pretty sure she made fun of me the entire time,” he says. The Dalhousie University student was nominated as a Value Champion for his dedication to the customers. “I really like helping customers out,” says Sam. “Seeing them happy before they leave the store is probably the best part of my job because it just makes me happy to carry on with my day.” Sam gets along well with the elderly customers who come in regularly. “They know my name now even without my name tag. I have a great time with the older customers.” Becoming a Value Champion means a lot to Sam who says he was surprised and humbled. “My family is very proud of me and my sister, too. I’ve earned my sister’s respect at work – but not at home,” laughs Sam.

Dalia Velez

Food is much more than nourishment for Dalia, who was born in Mexico City and moved to Canada 20 years ago. “Food has been very, very important since I was a kid,” she says. “It’s all about family gatherings and lots of food. All the important moments have been in the kitchen.” Recently, Dalia catered a dinner celebration for a customer who doesn’t like to cook. Afterwards, the customer sent a card and personally dropped by to thank Dalia and her team. “The customer went on to say that Dalia took exceptional care of them, let them sample the products before purchase and the level of dedication and commitment were much appreciated,” states the nomination letter. While Dalia is happy to have been recognized, she gives all the credit to her co-workers. “I love my team,” she says. “They are amazing and that’s why I have achieved a lot of things. We pull it together every day.”

Robert Tostowaryk

“I owe much if not all of my career to Rob’s leadership and foresight,” begins the nominating letter for Rob. “He is one of the most engaged, energetic and visionary leaders in Western Canada.” Rob, who started his career in 1996 as an order selector in Edmonton, is humbled by that sort of praise. “To be nominated is a great honour,” he says. “I wasn’t expecting it.” Rob has worked in several cities across western Canada and says one of his favourite parts of his job is the opportunity to connect with so many talented people. “We’ve got some fantastic people in our organization coast to coast,” says Rob. Rob is passionate about educating employees about why every job is vital. “We are here to create an exceptional customer experience at the stores,” he says. “But retail needs the support of the offices, construction, engineering, finance, distribution. If you can create that connection, now you’re really driving engagement, you’re really driving pride, you’re creating a force that moves in the right direction.”

Albert Tang

“I can say without a doubt that Albert is the most respected and upstanding individual I know in this company,” states the nominating letter for Albert. Albert’s passion is boundless, his empathy limitless and his desire to help authentic. His customers are so loyal that they followed Albert from another store. Even during a recent renovation when the grocery side of the store was closed, Albert’s pharmacy not only remained open, business increased. While humbled by the nomination, Albert is quick to deflect praise away from himself. “It’s always teamwork,” he says. “The support of my Markham team and the pharmacy management team is why I am able to deliver the services to my customers. This is not my personal award. It’s an award for all my staff … as well as Sobeys Pharmacy Group, whether in my region, or Ontario or nationally.”

Kelli-Anne Stetsko

Kelli-Anne believes in the value of teamwork in the workplace. Her supervisor takes this one step further and says Kelli-Anne sets a positive example to her colleagues and is a leader. In the letter nominating Kelli-Anne, her supervisor outlines a long list of contributions she has made to the RSC: joining the engagement committee, conducting Learn at Lunch sessions and researching the topics, a perfect attendance record, and a willingness to stay late to ensure all of her work is done. She is a loyal and dedicated employee. When asked what her proudest moment was, Kelli-Anne didn’t speak of herself but of Sobeys’ willingness to help staff and communities. “The Fort Mac fires were heartbreaking and I felt so proud when Sobeys jumped to their aid. I like knowing I was part of that, in helping people out.”

Keith Spencer

Renovations are stressful times for most people but for Keith, renovations offer a chance at renewal. “You take nothing and turn it into something,” he says. “I love that. If Sobeys wanted, I’d go from store to store to store spending my time just doing that.” Recently the store manager put Keith in charge of the grocery reline and department set up, work that earned him the Value Champion nomination. “Keith is one of the most, if not the most, responsible and dependable full-time employee in the store,” states the letter. “He is always willing to take on any additional tasks assigned and quite often is identifying opportunities around the store.” Being given the trust and space to make decisions makes Keith proud. “Being recognized for hard work and effort feels good.”