By Kevin Turner
Sandy Perron has worked for Winn-Dixie and Southeastern Grocers for 45 years, since 1970. But actually, she has been a part of the company for five years more than that.
Sandy began work with Winn-Dixie in June 1962, just out of high school. She worked for three-and-a-half years as a cashier, stockperson, courtesy clerk and office specialist at Winn-Dixie No. 201 in Hialeah, Florida.
From the beginning, she said, her co-workers at Winn-Dixie were a close, tight-knit group. Her store director at store No. 201 was even best man at her wedding to Dale Perron, who also worked for Winn-Dixie for 43 years. They have a daughter, Stacie, and a son, Scott.
“Many of my bosses and co-workers became a special part of my extended family,” she said.
She then spent a year and a half working in the advertising department in Winn-Dixie’s Miami office, where she first worked with Steve Stephens and Mickey Clerc, who directed the company’s advertising for many years and after whom the Marketing Department’s Clerc Room is named.
“We did everything,” she said. “We handled advertising, reports, and even did gift cards on a mimeograph machine.”
She left in 1967 and returned in 1970, coming to Winn-Dixie headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. There, she worked with the advertising and store design departments and soon was again working with Clerc. He handled advertising, company-wide promotions, continuity programs, press releases, annual reports and she would handle functions related to those areas.
“In the earlier days, it was basically just the two of us at Headquarters with up to 12 regional ad offices —we handled the advertising, PR and communications. The call center was added to his department,” she said.
Prior to that, customer complaints for the entire company—as many as 1,000 stores at the time—were routed to Sandy. Four new call center associates were later added. In the years that followed, she had high-visibility responsibilities such as ordering logos for Winn-Dixie’s signature “The Beef People” trucks, purchasing company incentives and working with Mark Martin Racing for seven years. She continued working with Clerc for more than 25 years until his retirement in 2003.
Through it all, she’s maintained her subtle but sharp humor, her warm work style and her highly competent handling of just about everything. She’s been with the company through many changes, technological advances and growth. Over the years she’s learned some core work “soft skills” that are very important, she said.
“You maintain a positive attitude and have patience,” she said. “You have to contribute. You learn adapt to new ideas and philosophies to enhance the growth of the Company.”
Sandy said she can’t believe that it’s been more than 45 years since she began work with Winn-Dixie.
“No, not really, because I enjoy the work I do and the people I work with,” she said. "Winn-Dixie gave me the opportunity to work with great people who enhanced my life through the years."
Sandy Perron (front left) after receiving an award and service pin for 45 years with Winn-Dixie and Southeastern Grocers.