Glassdoor just announced its 2015 Employees’ Choice Awards for the Best Places to Work in the U.S. and HEB came in at #7. Congratulations, HEB.
Now, if you’ve spent much time in central Texas, HEB needs no introduction. You know it as an outstanding grocery chain, with more than 300 stores in Texas and many in Mexico as well. But if “you’re not from around here,” as they say, then you might not know HEB. It’s time for some learnin’.
HEB is the acronym for the Howard E. Butt Grocery Company. Many locals think HEB stands for “Here Everything’s Better,” which is a bit of branding genius by the company. But it is officially named after Howard E. Butt, Sr., who took a tiny business started by his mother and began to build something quite impressive. This privately held company began over 100 years ago in a most humble way, as a women with a terminally ill husband sought to provide for her family. A century later, HEB is one of the largest privately held companies in America, employing more than 80,000 workers.
Until recently, I was not able to blog about HEB because I worked for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation, the foundation started and funded by the owners of the grocery company. The Butt family makes it very clear to employees that we are not to do anything to benefit the company in our professional life, because that would be a conflict of interest. The Butt family, owners of HEB and stewards of the Foundation, demonstrate ironclad integrity in their professional and personal lives, and they expect the same of their employees. If, through my blogging, which was a part of my work in the Foundation, I praised the grocery company, then this would be inappropriate, rather like using Foundation money to advertise.
What lies beneath’s HEB’s excellence in its relationship with its employees, whom HEB calls “partners”? You could point to many things. But at the bottom, you’d find a deep care and respect for people. HEB does not see people as cogs in a wheel or as shoppers to be manipulated. Rather, HEB, beginning with the family that owns it, sees the value of each and every human life. They see employees and customers as people to be served. It wouldn’t surprise you, I expect, to learn that this core commitment has religious roots that grow deeply into the soil of Christianity.
Perhaps at another time I’ll say a little more about HEB. For now, I’m pleased to be able to say a public “Congratulations” and to brag just a bit about this outstanding company.