STILLWATER, Minn. -- Brett Lein recently became district manager at Supervalu's Cub Foods division here. But his fight with the Minnesota legislature to allow wine sales in supermarkets has been going on since he was a store manager.
"We want to sell wine with dinner," Lein said. "It's just a natural pairing, and we are confident we can get this bill passed."
Lein and other members of the Minnesota Grocers Association, St. Paul, have been actively involved in getting a bill introduced, as well as working to convince legislators that wine sales should be permitted in supermarkets.
"We have been taking the state representatives on store tours and showing them our cameras and other security measures that will ensure underage individuals will not be able to purchase wine from stores. We have also been educating them that our safety records with beer and cigarette sales have proven better than liquor stores," Lein said.
"Once the legislators take the tours and see how tight our operation is, I don't think they can vote against it knowing what they know," Lein added.
If the bill is passed, it would be an unprecedented win for the industry as a whole and, said Lein, it would lead to a big jump in sales. "It would be huge," Lein said.
Nancy Christensen, executive director of the Minnesota Grocers Association, lauded Lein's efforts. "A critical component of our campaign is grassroots efforts. Cub Foods under Brett's leadership has done a spectacular job getting the message to legislators. And the feedback is that they are very impressed with Cub's operations, and that Cub has demonstrated its built-in features for safety clearly," Christensen said.
Lein takes on the title of innovator only grudgingly, claiming that he is just doing his job. "For me it's just about getting everyone involved, and doing it in a way where my store managers are having a good time while they are doing it. That is possibly the only way I am innovative," Lein said.
Lein stated that he is motivated in the campaign, as well as in his everyday duties, by his sheer desire to go out and make the most of every day.
"I am the only person making me get out there and perform my duties the best I can, really. I just try to pretend every day is my first day, and take that energy and use it to do my best," Lein said.
AT A GLANCE
district manager, Cub Foods
Supervisor: Gordy Ferrington, vice president, Minnesota Region, Supervalu
Years with company: 25
Golf, Minnesota Vikings football
Latest Book Read:
"One Minute Manager" by Kenneth H. Blanchard
Most Admired Person:
Bill Rossi and Craig Sreich, former managers of Lein who were Lein's mentors early in his career. In addition to these guys, said his wife, Lynda was an inspiration and he admires all she does.
Most Challenging Part Of The Job:
"Getting out to all the stores in the region and meeting the challenges unique to each store on a daily, weekly and monthly basis."
Most Enjoyable Part Of The Job:
"Working with the store managers; they are all high caliber employees and a lot of fun to work with."