From stocking shelves to store manager of the year
17-year old Reggie Beamon walked into the Food Lion store on 10th street in Greenville looking for an after school job back in the early 1990’s. He hasn’t walked away yet.
Now 45, the Farmville native and Farmville Central High School graduate runs one of one of the top producing stores among the 1,062 that spans 10 states.
Last week, the company recognized him as the Store Manager of the Year, an award that he’s come close to winning eight other times.
“I tell folks we are the store of the year because I can’t do anything without the 119 associates who give me their best effort every time they come to work,” Beamon said. “We want to make sure people leave happy.”
Beamon’s uncle ran an old-time country store complete with a meat market in Tarboro. Multiple visits with his mother at an early age probably made more of an impression that he realized.
“I was five or six when my mom started taking me up there,” Beamon said. “I remember my uncle always wearing a white smock, and he knew everybody who came in. I used to love hanging around and just listen to him swap stories with people. They left happy, so maybe that’s why I do what I do.”
Beamon started out bagging groceries and stocking shelves, then moved into the frozen food department. Every day provided a learning experience, and no day was the same.
After earning his business administration degree from Pitt Community College, Beamon joined Food Lion full-time and worked his way up the ladder. The Grimesland resident has made the 30 minute drive to Washington for 16 years, including the last four to the Washington Square Mall location.
“I figured out that I really liked the grocery business and being around people,” he said. “I learned early that every employee is important and it’s the manager’s job to make them feel like they contribute no matter what position they hold.”
Store managers start the process of picking the manager of year by nominating and voting within each region. Then it’s on to the division level where corporate officials get involved to make the final choice. Criteria include financial results, associate development and a high level of customer service.
Beamon has won his region five times, his division three times and now has the big prize.
“I tell our associates we sell groceries, but we serve people,” Beamon said. “We do our best to have quality products in stock ready for our customers.”
Beamon’s biggest challenge remains dealing with COVID-19.
“Nobody saw it coming and our warehouse supply chain was severely disrupted,” he said. “I did my best to stay calm in front of my team, but I had no idea what was coming next besides unhappy customers. We know what people buy during hurricanes and snowstorms, so we try to have plenty of bread and milk available, but who knew toilet paper and paper towels were going to fly out the door?”
Feedback on other pandemic-related changes has been positive.
“Our customers have been good about wearing their masks for the most part,” he said. The plexiglass in front of the registers and our cleaning procedures are probably here to stay.”
Countless associates have worked under Beamon over the years, seven or eight are currently store managers and several more are on the way up.
“I’ve learned a lot from him about life since I’ve worked here,” said 20-year old associate Wes Whitley. “He gives great advice on how to handle things outside of work and he’s very efficient in how he runs the store. He makes sure everyone is part of his plan. He is the epitome of a leader.”