Robert Mariano: People Person

Apr 14, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Robert Mariano is the chairman and chief executive officer of Roundy’s. He is also, according to all reports, a great communicator and leader.

Speculation over what Mr. Mariano has planned for Roundy’s has increased in recent months, ever since Safeway announced it was going to explore a sale of its Dominick’s chain in Chicago.

Mr. Mariano had a long career at Dominick’s and rose to chief executive before departing in 1998 when the Safeway bought the chain.

Don Fitzgerald, vice president of marketing operations, Dominick’s, told The Business Journal of Milwaukee, “I’ve rarely seen anybody be able to relate to the most junior entry-level clerk to the most senior people in government or in the company.”

Moderator’s Comment: What are your observations on
Robert Mariano’s leadership skills? Where will he take Roundy’s?

We know a few Dominick’s folks would love to have him
as boss again. It is hard to see, however, how Roundy’s can make a deal with
Safeway. Roundy’s long-term debt is manageable at present. The company expects
to be debt free within five years. Taking on Dominick’s (assuming Willis Stein
or other financing was found) would significantly impact Roundy’s debt picture.
Anderson – Moderator

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