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US family business beats Amazon, Google for best corporate reputation

Family-owned grocery chain Wegmans has topped a number of multinational giants when it comes to corporate reputation in the US
Credit: Press Association

A family-owned supermarket chain based in upstate New York has taken out multinational behemoths such as Google and Apple to be ranked the number one company for corporate reputation in the US.

Wegmans Food Markets knocked last year’s winner Amazon from the top spot in the annual Harris Poll reputation survey of more than 27,000 US consumers.

All-American clothing company L.L. Bean, owned by the Gorman family, and Publix Supermarkets, led by the Jenkins family, also appeared in the top 10, alongside the likes of Samsung and Johnson & Johnson.

Respondents rated the corporate reputation of companies they recognised from a list of 100 well-known businesses.

Oil giant BP, energy and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries and agriculture company Monsanto ranked in the bottom 10, with Goldman Sachs holding the worst reputation, according to the poll.

Previous research has shown that family businesses enjoy a more trustworthy reputation than large publicly-listed companies, with this year’s Edelman Trust Survey showing 72% of consumers in developed markets trust family-owned businesses, compared to just 45% that trust public companies.

Founded in 1916 and headquartered in Rochester, Wegmans is headed by third-gen Danny Wegman. His daughter Colleen is president, while another daughter, Nicole, is vice president of restaurant operations.

Although it is a successful business, its revenues pale in comparison to Amazon, which reaped $89 billion in 2014, compared to Wegmans’ $7.4 billion.

Companies in the survey were ranked across six categories that contribute to corporate reputation, and Wegmans was the only company to rank in the top five for each category.

Survey respondents ranked the company first for social responsibility, vision and leadership, financial performance, and workplace environment. It ranked second for emotional appeal, and products and services.

Fourth-generation Maine company L.L. Bean also ranked third out of all businesses in the survey for both its workplace environment and its emotional appeal. Publix Supermarkets ranked third for social responsibility.

“Reputation is far from static and is a business asset that is earned every day,” said Carol M Gstalder, reputation and public relations leader for Harris Poll. Gstalder added that employees were key to Wegmans success, and that the 85-store chain had spent years building its reputation “one shopping experience at a time”.

The company has appeared on every edition of Fortune’s annual list of the best 100 companies to work for. 

Harris Poll's top 10 US businesses for corporate reputation 2015

1. Wegmans Food Markets

2. Amazon.com

3. Samsung

4. Costco

5. Johnson & Johnson

6. Kraft Foods

7. L.L. Bean

8. Publix Supermarkets

9. Apple

10. Google

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