This Supermarket Is the Largest Employee-Owned Company in America

That may be why it's employees are so loyal.

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Think about stock options and chances are, you picture the founders of successful startups whose shares are worth hundreds of millions on paper.

As it turns out, the largest employee-owned company in America is far from Silicon Valley. It’s Publix, a chain of more than 1,200 supermarkets based in the Southeast. The private company, which is based in Florida, employs more than 190,000 people.

How does the employee ownership work? Once people have worked at Publix for at least a year, they are given company stock equivalent to 8 to 12 percent of their annual salary, according to Clark.com. Publix employees earn comparable salaries to others in the grocery business. (A cashier makes an average of $9.58 an hour, according to Payscale.) But with each share worth about $42.70, those numbers can add up over time. Find out the best supermarket in every state.

That may help explain why Publix has a voluntary turnover rate of just 5 percent, when the industry average is about 65 percent, according to Fortune. Publix employees are often described as “bleeding green” because of their company loyalty. “Publix is employee-owned, so I felt a responsibility to provide excellent customer service,” a former cashier in Columbia, South Carolina wrote on Glassdoor. Check out these 29 things your grocer won’t tell you.

In fact, the company’s CEO, Todd Jones, started out at the chain more than three decades ago—as a bagger. Talk about setting an example for his employees! For more need-to-know grocery store info, these are the top grocery stores in America, ranked by value.

Jen McCaffery
Jen McCaffery is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Prevention, Rhode Island Monthly, and other publications and websites. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s growing veggies or trying to figure out the way home from assorted trails.