In this day and age of ‘what is in it for me’, I am truly proud of what is transpiring out east across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It is better than any made-for-TV movie and has all the qualities necessary to keep viewers riveted for hours: greed, envy, good guy/bad guy, hostile take-overs, he said/she said…a family feud of biblical proportions played out against the backdrop of idyllic New England.
Seriously – it does not get any better than this. A grandfather builds a very successful supermarket chain (Market Basket) and years later one cousin, Arthur T. Demoulas is fired by another cousin Arthur S. Demoulas. Only one problem: Arthur S. does not realize the relationship Arthur T. has built over the years with his employees, customers, and distributors.
Big mistake! In fact, this saga has even been likened to the movie “Its a Wonderful Life”, with the one cousin being compared to George Bailey (Arthur T) and other likened to Mr. Potter (guess who).
The facts themselves are well-documented by just googling ‘Market Basket’; in fact, a webpage titled We Are Market Basket was created to explain exactly why both customers and employees have been protesting the firing of their CEO, Artie T as they refer to him. What intrigued me though from day one is the bond between this CEO and his employees…a bond so strong they are willing to risk their jobs for him. And, the bond between this CEO and the customer base of Market Basket…a bond so strong most customers are protesting by shopping at rival stores, many of whom have higher prices.
What does protesting get employees? Possible pink slips.
What does protesting get former customers? Higher grocery bills.
And yet, they are not backing down…in fact, their numbers are growing.
They are supporting a man who does not put corporate profits over the well-being of his employees. They are supporting a man who feels it is best to keep food costs low so families can feed their families well and still have money in their pockets after pay-day. They are supporting a man who does not see balance sheets – but the faces of his employees and their families. They are all supporting the man who to them is the head of their family.
Either the Board of Directors misread the relationship between Artie T, the employees, and customers or they ignored it completely in their quest for revenge and greater shareholder dividends. Today, after weeks of million dollar loses at stores across the region, they are deciding whether or not to sell their shares to Artie T who wants to buy them out.
My thoughts and prayers are with these employees and customers. I hope they are successful.