Story and Photograph Copyright Westfair Communications
Even though its store opening in Harrison still is more than six months away, the Wegmans food market under construction at 106-110 Corporate Park Drive already has 75 to 80 employees on the payroll, with more being added, store manager Matthew Dailor told the Business Journal.
“We started our hiring as of April 1,” he said. “The number is in flux. We’re trying to hire over 500 so we’re always looking for good people. Currently, our folks are training in our Montvale, New Jersey, location, which is some 30 minutes away.”
Dailor said that Wegmans takes care of transporting the employees from Westchester to Montvale, where its 108,000-square-foot store opened in September 2017 and is slightly smaller than what’s taking shape in Harrison.
The approved site plan for the Harrison store was for a 121,000-square-foot facility on the 20-acre site. It was initially approved to include a 12,000-square-foot tenant space adjacent to the main building, but Dailor said, “That is no longer part of our plan. When we looked at it, it just wasn’t making sense.”
The site plan also has been revised to show a covered outdoor seating area overlooking the supermarket’s north parking lot.
Dailor said the Harrison store will feature a Burger Bar, which is a popular attraction at other Wegmans stores.
“It’s a fast, casual dining experience, so you can get burgers and shakes and fries and salads and things like that made right in front of you,” he said. “We’ll also have fresh sushi in the store every day. We’ll have our pizza shop, our sandwich shop, made-to-go salad station and all of our perishable food, world-class seafoods, meats and an amazing cheese shop. I love cheese.”
The store will stock approximately 70,000 items.
Wegmans bought the property for $26.5 million from Normandy Real Estate Partners. “We’re on track for a spring 2020 opening. We’re currently working on our foundations,” Dailor said. “There are a lot of things that can influence construction that are out of our control. If we have a light winter that can mean one thing. We want to keep the opening date general for a little bit longer until we have a better idea of what that looks like.”
The Harrison store, along with a store at the Brooklyn Navy Yard scheduled to open Oct. 27, represent a stepped-up presence for the chain in the New York metro market. As of Aug. 1, it listed 99 stores in operation: 46 in New York; 18 in Pennsylvania; 9 in New Jersey; 12 in Virginia; 8 in Maryland; and 6 in Massachusetts. Wegmans has approximately 49,000 employees and last year had sales of $9.2 billion.
The company is based in Rochester, New York, and is owned by the Wegman family. Its roots go back to 1916 and brothers John Wegman and Robert Wegman.
“I’ve worked for Wegmans for over 25 years,” Dailor said. “I started when I was 15, working up in Rochester as a cart attendant. One of the things I really love about my job is that it really comes down to making sure we’re providing an exceptional employment experience to our new people. We want this to be the best job they’ve ever had and it’s my job to make sure we do what we say we’re going to do.”
He said Wegmans has been on Fortune magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since the list began in 1998. In 2019, it ranked third and in 2005, the company was ranked No. 1.
Dailor said the staff at Wegmans has been flattered with the positive response they’ve received in Westchester.
“We’re doing a lot of community events and we’re kind of out and about introducing ourselves and getting a chance to meet people,” he said. “That warm welcome that we’ve gotten from the community at large and from the organizations within the community has been really awesome and we can’t wait to open.”
Dailor said Wegmans uses jobs.wegmans.com in its recruiting efforts and also invites prospects to call the Westchester hiring office at 914-539-3700. Approximately 220 of the 500 jobs in Harrison will be full time.