Monday, April 17, 2006

Job Interview at HEB

This morning, I had an interview with Human Resources at HEB. I ran into them at the job fair at UTPA. I have a follow-up interview tomorrow morning, so I was doing some reading up on the industry. Invariably the question always comes, "Why do you want to work at XYZ, Corporation?" I thought I'd prepare for that.
There is some difficulty in coming up with something more substantial than "because you are hiring and I need a job". I've been researching the industry. One of the benefits of going to school at UTPA is that there is plenty of information lying around waiting for you.
I can't compare HEB to other grocery stores directly because HEB is a privately held company. All I can assume is that they follow the industry norms for grocery stores. This would mean that HEB has roughly a 30% Gross Margin, 6.5% Operating Margin, and a 2% Profit Margin as compared to national retailers such as Kroger, Safeway, and Albertson's. One thing to bear in mind however, is that HEB does not have any serious competition in the RGV except for Wal-Mart Supercenters and, if Target dares, Target Supercenters. I don't give K-Mart serious consideration because of their tendency to try to fool the public on prices. You can't raise the price on an item and then discount it to call it a sale.
Wal-Mart falls under a different type of retail industry segment. Their gross margin last year was 24%, with a operating margin of 6.6% and a profit margin of 3.6%.
The reason I mention this is because if you look in the History of HEB, you'll notice that they list the 2004 opening of the HEB Plus in San Juan, Tx as a major event. The future of HEB is going towards more general merchandise. I can understand the reason why. That extra 1.5% profit margin makes the endeavor worthwhile for the company. The way I understand the dynamics, grocery and general merchandise are considered different projects. So, the company is due for some growth in the coming years with the addition of their new product lines. Of course, where there is growth, there is opportunity for advancement. So, I'm going to get my foot in the door as an overnight stocker (which is the best starting pay for entry-level). Hopefully, with the retail experience I have, I can get a little bit more. It should help me stay in school and finish my degree as well. Also, they have an in-house management training program, for which I intend to apply repeatedly.
I wasn't expecting to find this opportunity for advancement at HEB. I'm glad I took the time to investigate what's going on. With any luck, I'll have good news tomorrow.
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