Randy Edeker, the CEO of Hy-Vee, the largest employer in Iowa with more than 93,000 staff in 285 stores across the Midwest, will step down from his post later this year. Edeker named current vice chairman of Hy-Vee Inc. Aaron Wiese as his replacement, effective Oct. 1, according to a company news release.
Here’s what we know about the leadership change and what this means for Iowa’s largest employer.
Who is Aaron Wiese, incoming CEO of Hy-Vee?
Aaron Wiese, who is set to take over as Hy-Vee CEO on Oct. 1, currently serves as the vice chairman of Hy-Vee Inc.
Wiese graduated from Washington High School in Cherokee. According to the company’s news release, Wiese has served in various operations and leadership roles within the company since 1993, when he started working at Hy-Vee as a student. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, he worked as an operations manager for Hy-Vee Care for four years. By 2012, he became the director of real estate planning for Hy-Vee, then moved on to director of health/wellness strategic planning in 2013.
In 2014, Wiese served as the chief operating officer of Omaha-based pharmacy solutions provider Amber Pharmacy, which at the time had just been acquired by Hy-Vee. By 2019, Wiese had moved up to serve as president of the Hy-Vee subsidiary, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Wiese continued his upward trajectory within the company, taking on a role as executive vice president at Hy-Vee in December 2020 and eventually landing his current role in December 2021.
What does this mean for Randy Edeker?
Edeker has served as the chairman and CEO of Hy-Vee since 2012. He will stay on as chairman of the board after stepping down as CEO effective Oct. 1, according to the company’s news release.
Edeker said in the release the leadership change intends to help him focus on the company’s broader strategy and goals.
Jeremy Gosch will remain as president and chief operating officer of Hy-Vee, overseeing all of the retail operations for the business, according to Hy-Vee.
“With this announcement, I can continue to focus on Hy-Vee’s strategy and evolution in today’s changing environment while Jeremy (Gosch) can focus on overseeing our stores and Aaron (Wiese) can focus on the day-to-day operations of the overall company,” he said in the news release.
Is Hy-Vee expanding?
The announcement comes amid the brand’s recent efforts to expand from a regional grocery brand to a national one. In December, plans for the company’s expansion into Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama leaked. The ambitious plan at the time called for more than 20 new stores to open in those markets in the next four years.
Already, Hy-Vee announced plans to open a 150,000-square-foot store in Zionsville, a suburb just north of Indianapolis.
The company also announced in December a new subsidiary, RedBox RX, that provides telehealth services and shops prescriptions directly to patients throughout the United States.
With national expansion driving the company’s future strategy, the brand has also experimented with new concepts across the Midwest.
In 2021, the company opened its first of several planned Wall to Wall Wine and Spirits Stores in West Des Moines, which industry experts lauded as an example of Hy-Vee’s strength in experimentation.
The grocery store chain also recently sponsored the Hy-Vee IndyCar Race Weekend in Newton July 23-24 that saw a sold-out doubleheader race and concerts by Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton.
What other changes are going on at Hy-Vee?
While the company has taken big steps to expand its national presence, some of its other projects — particularly at home — have struggled to find their footing.
In September of last year, Hy-Vee announced its plans to convert its downtown grocery store location into a version of the chain’s HealthMarket concept, to the surprise of many local residents and city officials. However, the location has yet to implement any noticeable changes.
In March 2020, the grocery store chain announced it would close all four of the fulfillment centers for its Aisles Online delivery service, resulting in substantial layoffs. Earlier that year in February, the company also ended 24-hour service in its Des Moines locations.
Layoffs have continued at the grocery chain. Since March 2022, the company has eliminated more than 415 positions from its corporate offices in West Des Moines.
At the time, Edeker emphasized the company was focusing on filling 10,000 open jobs at retail stores across the company’s portfolio. The company later cited “economic challenges” such as inflation as the motivation behind the restructuring.
Who is Hy-Vee’s biggest competitor?
With plans to expand to the Southeast, Hy-Vee is facing a new set of competitors, including established regional brands and national chains.
According to David Livingston, a retail and supermarket consultant based in Hawaii, the move will force the Iowa-based grocery chain to compete on the price of its groceries and also in labor.
In all six of the cities where Hy-Vee intends to open stores, the chain will face competition from established national brands such as Walmart, Target and Kroger. In five of the cities, Hy-Vee will also face competition from Publix, a Lakeland, Florida-based chain.
An annual shopper preference index published by London-based data science company Dunnhumby ranked Hy-Vee 29th out of 66 retailers. The survey analyzed consumer preferences on conveniences, price, quality of goods, digital offerings and rewards, among other factors.
What does Hy-Vee stand for?
Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg opened a small store in Beaconsfield, Iowa, in 1930. By 1933, they started calling the store Hyde & Vredenburg. In 1952, the store held a contest to rename the stores. The winning name, Hy-Vee, was formed from a contraction of the co-founders’ names Hyde and Vredenburg, according to the Hy-Vee website.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Hy-Vee’s CEO will be Aaron Wiese. What changes for the grocery chain?
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