October 3, 2023

Grocery wars in Florida: Publix vs. Walmart

Mike Vogel | 7/28/2014

The Founders


Publix founder George Jenkins (known as “Mr. George”) was born in Georgia in 1907 and died in 1996. He opened the first Publix in Winter Haven in 1930. Today, the chain he started has 1,078 stores and $21.9 billion in revenue.


Sam Walton (known as “Mr. Sam”) was born in 1918 in Oklahoma and died in 1992. He opened the first Walmart in 1962 in Arkansas. Today, there are more than 11,000 Walmarts in 27 countries. The chain has revenue of $477.2 billion.

Publix Family Fortune

In 1990, Ed Crenshaw, just 40, took a seat on the board of directors of Publix, the company his grandfather founded. He found plenty of familiar faces: His aunt, Carol, who had been a director for seven years; Carol’s husband, Hoyt “Barney” Barnett, who had been a director for five; uncle Howard, a board member for 13 years; and cousin Charlie Jenkins Jr., who had been on 16 years. The five ranged in age, upon taking their board seats, from their late 20s to early 40s.

Twenty-three years later, they’re all still there, though they now range in age from 57 to 70. CEO Crenshaw, a ft 63 with an iron handshake, says he has no plan to retire. His cousin Charlie retired at 65 as CEO but remains on the board.

Crenshaw says the company has a “robust” development plan for grooming new leaders. It focuses on passing on founder George W. Jenkins’ philosophy of taking care of customers and employees but not on Jenkins’ family control, he says. “We talk about the strength of the Publix family,” says Crenshaw, who earned $1.1 million in salary and incentive pay in 2013. “We’re not out there talking about the Jenkins family.” The only next-generation Jenkins working for the company is Crenshaw’s son, Brad, who is in the company real estate department.

The company president is Todd Jones, 52, not a Jenkins.

All told, heirs of George Jenkins own 21% of Publix shares, valued at $5 billion. As a refection of the elite circles Publix has placed the Jenkins descendants in, George Jenkins’ daughter Carol and her husband, Barney, in March sold 60 acres at the Colorado ski resort of Telluride to Oprah Winfrey for nearly $11 million. Forbes says Carol Barnett’s net worth is $1.1 billion.

Tags: Retail & Sales

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