The Root of What Matters™
With Ted Balistreri, Owner – Sendik’s Food Market
For its aggressive growth, and commitment to community and the grocery industry, the co-owners of Sendik’s Food Market were named 2016 Executives of the Year by the Milwaukee Business Journal. But that award was just one of many feathers in the cap of this 75+ year-old, 18 store, family-owned and operated grocery store chain based in Milwaukee.
Known for its red bags and great service, Sendik’s is staple in greater Milwaukee.
Today, one of the owners, Ted Balistreri, talks to ZYN about life, his story and more in this edition of “The Root of What Matters.”
ZYN: Give us, please, the Ted Balistreri story?
Ted Balistreri: Born and raised in Milwaukee, I love this city and this state and think our best days are yet to come!
Sendik’s is a Milwaukee icon and your family is a huge part of the community. When did Sendik’s begin, and what are some of the highlights along the way?
Sendik’s began in the early 20th century by our grandfather and his brothers. They were produce merchants on Milwaukee’s northeast side of town. From the beginning, our focus has been providing the freshest, best tasting, food wrapped in a bow of unparalleled customer service. We are Milwaukee’s hometown, family owned grocer and have a team that works very hard every day to earn the trust the community has placed in us.
You’ve grown a great culture at Sendik’s. What do you attribute that to? And, be honest — working with family every day, what challenges and opportunities does that present?
Our culture runs deep and stems from the fact that all of us have worked in every part of the business from a very young age. We live by the golden rule of treating everyone like we would want our most beloved family member (grandparent, parent, child) to be treated. This is displayed daily in our stores from our team members who go out of their way to make sure that guests are treated to the best shopping experience, period. The fact that this is a 92 year old third generation family business helps keep the culture in tact.
What are the 3 biggest trends you see in the grocery business in the next year or two?
Healthy eating is a trend that continues the evolve. More so than in the past, customers want to know what benefits they are getting from the food they are eating. Our role is to help find the best products and be the experts to help consumers with their choices.
What book(s) are you reading now?
At anytime I am reading two or three or more books. Right now I am half way through “Crusade in Europe” the wartime memoirs of Dwight Eisenhower. I also have just begun reading “The Future of Management” by Gary Hamel and just finished reading “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni.
We’ve thankful for your support of ZYN. What do you think of it, and what changes do you see coming to the beverage cases and aisles at Sendik’s in the coming years?
Zyn is a very innovative product that fits squarely within the healthy eating (drinking in this case) trend. The health benefits of tumeric and curcumin are documented and Zyn has figured out a delivery mechanism that packages the benefits in a delicious drink. I’m hooked!
For me, success is close family and friends and GREAT FOOD!
Finally, if you’re wondering what Sendik’s means, here’s how the family explains it on their web site.
The name Sendik’s is derived from a simple misunderstanding. As new immigrants to America, the family needed to acquire many household items. While attempting to purchase a stove, Great Grandpa Balistreri overcame the language barrier and asked the clerk to “send it” to him. To the salesman, it sounded like Great Grandpa was saying “Sendik,” which is the name that was written on the order. When the stove arrived, the delivery person asked some neighbors where he could find “Mr. Sendik.” They pointed him in Great Grandpa’s direction because they knew he was expecting a stove. Great Grandpa became known as Mr. Sendik, and the rest, as they say, is history.