Skip to main content

Joe Lueken is the kind of boss I wish more Americans could work for.

"My employees are largely responsible for any success I've had, and they deserve to get some of the benefits of that," Lueken said earlier this week. "You can't always take. You also have to give back."
The Star Tribune had a story about Lueken, 70, of Bemidji, Minnesota yesterday, "A thankful Bemidji grocer shares his success with his employees". For the past 46 years, Lueken has been a successful grocer and come January 1st, he is transferring ownership of his three supermarkets to his nearly 400 employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Program.

Despite many offers to sell out to grocery store chains, Lueken and his family think transferring ownership of Lueken's Village Foods to his employees at no cost to them is better for the community.

Employee-ownership at Lueken’s means increased opportunity for employee-owners, their families, and continued support of our community. When profits stay local, everyone wins.

Lueken's son, Jeff, told the Bemidji Pioneer in "Lueken’s to become employee-owned" that if the family had sold to an outside group, then the local community would lose the management jobs. When the company becomes 100 percent employee-owned in about five years time, it will benefit the community since the jobs will stay put.  

"The larger benefactor is the community," he said. He further explained the family's thinking to the Star Tribune:

"We could have hired a gunslinger from Minneapolis, but that didn't sit well because the reward wouldn't go to the proper people," said son Jeff…

"The whole move revolves around people, not things or money," Jeff Lueken said. "It's about allowing people to grow with the business and send their kids to college and have a great retirement, and even to express themselves at work."

Lueken's employees will get shares at no cost to them based on length of service and salary. When someone leaves or retires, the current employees are obligated to repurchases his or her shares. The shares' value will grow with the company.
"He's rockin' awesome," said Svare, 41, who started at Lueken's in 2009 and worked up to front-end manager.

"He chose to protect his people," she said. "Being owners will make us care more about our work. It gives you something to call your own and gives you a more comfortable retirement to look forward to."

Joe Lueken will be looking forward to his semi-retirement too, according to the Pioneer, spending time traveling and being with his family who now all live outside of Minnesota.

Lueken told the Star Tribune:

"The grocery business gets in your blood," he said. "You have to think fast and move fast. You try your best to please every customer. Being around them and the employees, it does something special for you."

He operated by a simple philosophy, which he traces to his parents: "Do the right thing."

Words to do business by from a true job creator and community builder.


Originally posted to Magnifico on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 10:07 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Sharoney, a gilas girl, Egg, Pat K California, JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, Sylv, chrississippi, Alma, From the choir, jillian, CJB, Trix, PrahaPartizan, Sean Robertson, Chi, filkertom, jotter, lapin, mwm341, teacherken, Geenius at Wrok, Gooserock, Rolfyboy6, TechBob, Emerson, OtherDoug, MouseThatRoared, Debby, Minnesota Deb, donna in evanston, billlaurelMD, cotterperson, SanJoseLady, meg, LEP, Stein, Mlle L, eeff, Mnemosyne, xynz, HootieMcBoob, WI Deadhead, frisco, MarkInSanFran, dinazina, Creosote, geordie, RubDMC, eyeswideopen, rasbobbo, tyler93023, missLotus, kalihikane, Wee Mama, ask, CoolOnion, boadicea, mikidee, tmmike, farmerhunt, roses, qphilo, Terre, fumie, Cedwyn, sidnora, Chrisfs, wader, revsue, Lilyvt, hopesprings, pat bunny, RandRegL, duncanidaho, JimWilson, BMarshall, lizah, RuralLiberal, RebeccaG, lcrp, MagentaMN, riverlover, ppluto, Matt Esler, econlibVA, AllisonInSeattle, zett, zerelda, side pocket, Kitsap River, WisVoter, tomjones, jcrit, Emmy, realalaskan, Gowrie Gal, weelzup, davidkc, A Citizen, maybeeso in michigan, radarlady, ichibon, Seldom Seen, SherwoodB, liberalcheesehead, Chinton, offred, BCO gal, kuvasz, juliesie, Dobber, Laurence Lewis, Kevskos, scribe69, LNK, kmras, jimstaro, Burned, Barcelona, lotlizard, blue jersey mom, Ozzie, Savvy813, wbr, joeotter, Ammo Hauler, Pluto, Lindy, peacestpete, mightymouse, Land of Enchantment, Sister Havana, Jim R, begone, reddbierd, Mother Mags, snazzzybird, tarheelblue, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, keeplaughing, Clytemnestra, tung sol, BlueInARedState, emeraldmaiden, mooshter, kestrel9000, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, global citizen, A Siegel, 4Freedom, bubbanomics, Tickticker, plf515, dilireus, Preston S, el cid, totallynext, MBNYC, Pilgrim X, SingerInTheChoir, thenekkidtruth, doingbusinessas, fiddlingnero, shaharazade, jjellin, Tom Anderson, CharlieHipHop, ms badger, AllanTBG, markthshark, mapman, Pandoras Box, Thinking Fella, ladypockt, One Pissed Off Liberal, FlamingoGrrl, rchipevans, wa ma, weneedahero, LSophia, atlliberal, gloriana, Positronicus, karmsy, FishOutofWater, HeartlandLiberal, operculum, terabytes, Dave in Northridge, DWG, Uncle Moji, newpioneer, davehouck, bnasley, puzzled, US Blues, jedennis, martyinsfo, letsgetreal, Killer of Sacred Cows, jnhobbs, jhop7, carpunder, hopi13, OIL GUY, uciguy30, GeorgeXVIII, Brahman Colorado, The Pollster, Mulkum, TomP, JDWolverton, rogerdaddy, misterwade, ChocolateChris, Port City Moon, greenalley, HappyinNM, Chacounne, ScottyUrb, Sixty Something, Foundmyvoice, Mr Stagger Lee, Involuntary Exile, dadadata, elwior, lineatus, Calamity Jean, tofumagoo, catly, alnep, mofembot, Horsefeathers, glendaw271, petulans, elpacifico66, luckylizard, DixieDishrag, BYw, Bongobanger, Executive Odor, Mayfly, billybam, dmhlt 66, watercarrier4diogenes, GrannyOPhilly, shortgirl, jlms qkw, divitius, maggiejean, lancecote, enemy of the people, Bule Betawi, multilee, Ripeness Is All, ARS, greengemini, not a cent, ewmorr, jtraynor, pvlb, notrouble, Zotz, earicicle, shopkeeper, GreenMtnState, prgsvmama26, petral, moonbatlulu, geebeebee, Alise, papahaha, kevinpdx, Keith Pickering, stevenwag, sfarkash, jpmassar, Leftcandid, mshumaker, Larsstephens, Words In Action, BlueOak, MT in Austin, smileycreek, coppercelt, mamamorgaine, awcomeon, Laurilei, catwho, candysroom, stunzeed, Polly Syllabic, cazcee, dagnome, renzo capetti, pixxer, elginblt, addisnana, Patate, ericlewis0, USHomeopath, petesmom, science nerd, nosleep4u, not4morewars, Actbriniel, theKgirls, Onomastic, kerflooey, mama jo, I love OCD, eptcb126, sboucher, Bob Duck, slowbutsure, grannyboots, lady blair, La Gitane, OldGrammy, Mistral Wind, FarWestGirl, Alice Olson, Deleuzional, ciaomama, Haf2Read, marleycat, zukesgirl64, Ricochet67, IllanoyGal, thomask, jk2003, slooterdam, noodles and doodles, muddy boots, smoothnmellow, JWK, LSmith, antooo, peregrine kate, sound of progress, Andrew F Cockburn, jolux, SoCalSal, SteelerGrrl, DRo, MichaelNY, johnnr2, KansasNancy, KiB, anodnhajo, Catskill Julie, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, IndieGuy, Arctic Belle, jayfisher, ahumbleopinion, AreDeutz, FloridaSNMOM, shanesnana, deweyrose, Mike RinRI, jan4insight, belinda ridgewood, radical simplicity, BusyinCA, MartyM, pittie70, parakeet, james321, avsp, arizonablue, rat racer, Glen The Plumber, dotdash2u, 4mygirls, George3, wasatch, Robynhood too, Australian2, Hammerhand, nuclear winter solstice, MarkW53, Chaddiwicker, nomandates, Dallas L, The grouch, Linda1961, remembrance, sixeight120bpm, Setsuna Mudo, DownstateDemocrat, Agent99, averblue, Yo Bubba, sfbaytransplant, AguaEcon, LaraJones, Smoh, GrannyRedBird, Laura Wnderer, jplanner, pragmaticidealist, sparkysgal, TheDuckManCometh, ihlabathi eliluhlaza, RUNDOWN

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site