When Larry Johnston became the CEO of Albertsons, I checked out his background and read where he was a former executive of General Electric with absolutely no experience in the grocery business. It doesn't matter what lack of experience you have...if you are rubbing elbows with the right people connected to a company's board of directors, you're in.
During what I believed to be his first Christmas holiday season of his tenure, I noticed the usual holiday shippers of merchandise coming into the stores. However, there was a large shipper containing NBC Christmas music on CDs. A conflict of interest caught my attention knowing that he had connections to NBC... at one time GE was the parent company of NBC. I knew right then where his focus was going to be at Albertson's...him. If a couple thousand Albertsons' stores all receive hundreds of NBC CD's, in merchandise shippers, how much will he get back as a kickback from the sales? I had never seen NBC Christmas music in CDs coming into the grocery stores before Johnston became CEO...and why NBC? I know why.
My sister Terry, who lived in Boise, Idaho, at the time, and still does, unfortunately had a tragic death take place as one of her daughters passed away. My brother and I took a plane to Boise so we could attend her daughter's funeral on that sad day. Knowing I had connections with Boise and Albertsons' back in the early 70s, I thought to myself that if I had an opportunity to stop by Albertsons' main office there in Boise, while on this trip, I would have a wrapped-up Raley's Exposed CD with me and I would present a copy to Larry Johnston as a gift. Inside my little CD gift to Larry, I would place a note inside saying "Larry, will you please sell my CD about my dad Charles Nordby at all of the Albertsons' stores like you did for NBC with their Christmas music in CD format?"
I was able to stop by Albertsons' main office after my niece's funeral, as a member of my family had transportation available for me and they drove me to this modern Albertsons' office building located in a new area of Boise that didn't really exist in 1974 while I was living there.
Let's take a little excursion from Albertson's new main office and travel down
It seemed to be a much larger Albertson's corporate office than the one I had to go to back in 1974 (located in the downtown area of Boise while I was employed at Albertson's), to share with clueless Boise executives on the massive employee theft problem I uncovered going on at Albertson's store #109. If there was an employee who wasn't stealing inside #109, then they were closing their eyes to it all and allowing it to happen by not coming forward and saying something. I don't believe there were too many of them employed at this store.
The picture of #109 above is a picture I located on the internet and at this time this store was in the finishing stages of being built in 1961. I started working inside this store in 1974 when it was a nice looking store. One evening, while heading to the right side door intrance from the parking lot, I caught a shoplifter trying to take a basket of beer out through this door. When most of the people employed at this store in 1974 are dishonest, do any of these employees care about unpaid beer leaving the store?
Not only were these store employees clever thieves, but they were very talented with their backroom artistic abilities to write "fuck you frank," on the backroom wall in black ink, after they realized I wasn't going to join their party that would make me a knowingly and willfull party to this stealing. In 1974 Albertson store #109 in Boise, Idaho, had been losing money every quarter...and for how many quarters before I was hired, I don't know. That's just one of the least important facts. The most important fact is that some of the employees who were stealing---oh yeah, were family members of Albertson's corporate office.
I could never figure out why an employee (I believe his name was Conner...but it may have been Conrad), at Albertsons #109 , back in 1974, could make such a sweet 2am deal with a couple of his friends that required me, a runner, to run to the back of the store as this employee supposedly rang up seven or more cases of Coors beer at the register. When they saw me eagerly hand trucking that stack of beer up to the front of the store with a smile on my face, all they could probably think of at the time was how clever they were being able to get free beer at night, and having a friend working at a grocery store simply made this so easy for them to accomplish. Then suddenly, out of a clear full moon, they realized how clever I was when I asked to see their purchase receipt after I saw that this register had mysteriously never produced a sales receipt by looking at the detail tape. That surprise look on their faces when I told them they couldn't have the beer unless I received a receipt...it's priceless.
Wow, when they realized producing an actual sales receipt wasn't part of their usual plan, one of them stuttered the word "receipt," while hoping that their store employee friend Conner would come to their rescue and save this free beer expedition by claiming he had more senority than me and a sales receipt wasn't necessary to produce, according to their late night labor rules, when it involves a stack of beer less than seven feet high as their stack of beer was only six feet high and an entire foot below that requirement.
The two guys were able to quickly pick up on the eye wink from their employee friend Conner that signaled for them to do a sideways shuffle out of the store, without any beer and with their eyes kind of popping out of its socket. Conner, who was to be with me for a few more hours, never said another word to me for the rest of the night.
Note: On nights that shelves were not being stocked, there were only two employees working the night shift to face forward the product in the aisles and fill shelves with backstock at this 24-hour-store, and unfortunately for him he was scheduled to work with a guy whose father caught supermarket thieves for a living and was currently tasked with spanking every thief out of Raley's operation 550 miles away during this same time period. However at this time in 1974, I didn't know what my dad was uncovering at Raley's and he didn't know the craziness I was experiencing at Albertsons'.
When the store director came to work in the morning, I shared with him what had happened during the night with this other employee. I kid you not, these words came forth from this manager's mouth, "The man you are accusing of stealing is the grandson of one Albertsons' biggest stockholders. Do you want me to call Conner to this office right now so you can tell him what you just told me?" I told him "I don't know who he is, but sure, if you want to call him up here go ahead-I just wanted you to know so you can keep an eye on him"...and the manager did not call him to the office and did absolutely nothing.
So, the two most important lessons I learned from talking to Manager Rasmussen on that morning were:
1: The grandson of a big corporate stockholder doesn't steal.
2: I should never consider a person like Conner, ever again, to be a thief even in a store that's losing money quarter after quarter and Boise upper management can't figure out why. LOL
It was less than six months and this store director was fired for failing to do his job and allowing his store to lose money quarter after quarter. He was a personal friend to Warren McCain-a big executive at Albertsons...Note: I learned over the years that "big executive" doesn't mean shit. The day upper management came into the store around noon was the day the store manager left the store with his brief-case around noon and never returned again and this unfortunate visual inspired the produce manager at #109 to say to me "Even his friendship with Warren McCain couldn't save his job." Some time later this same produce manager was fired too for stealing cigarettes and he found out that even his friendship with me couldn't save his job.
Please don't misunderstand me. I never wanted to see this store manager fired because on October 29, 1974, he hired me and I really like him as a person. However, his failure to do his job properly caused me a lot of unnecessary stressful grief. I came to him as an honest employee and followed the Albertson's Employee Manual that was given to me and I adhered to absolutely everything that manual detailed for all employees.
Had not Store Manager Darrel been a respecter of persons on the morning I spoke with him, the grandson of one of Albertson's biggest stockholders would not have hijacked his common sense because of who he was, to where he would have done the right thing that would have surely prevented his humiliating termination in the future.
I had this experience with Darrel when I started working for him...and this took place before all of the drama started for me with the dishonest employees: The store floors were waxed, shiny, clean and beautiful. Back during those days, everything was manufactured in glass. I had this one situation where I was returning a bottle of grape juice to an aisle and it slipped out of my hand and broke on the floor. Grape juice was everywhere and leaving a terrible stain. It was going to take a lot of cleaning to get that stain off the store. Darrel saw my mess and came up to me and whispered into my ear and jokingly told me, "I'm going to kill you." Looking back, I wished he had never hired me. I was mostly happy working at the Boise St. Universary cafeteria, with the track right there to run on when I finished my daily job. The people liked me and my life was really stress free.
An important fact about the story shared above concerning Albertsons' store #109 was that I didn't know at this time in 1974-75, while I was catching employees stealing at this store that this store was losing money every quarter. I only learned that fact when I had a private meeting with Albertson's uppermanagement who wanted to know from me what was going on at that particular store because I had called the main office to inform them of the stealing. A private meeting was scheduled for me to share my information with top management. In this private meeting I told uppermanagement that Store Director Darrel (or Dennis), Rasmussen heard my story but blew it off and never took action.
Uppermanagement at Albertsons believed my story because they couldn't figure out why they weren't making money at #109 as this store's sales should have posted good profits. It became a standard practice that when the Washington Inventory crew had done a physical count of the quarterly inventory, Albertsons afterwards would then have store employees do a recount of all of the merchanidise to rule out miscounting by the Washington Inverntory firm. Interesting fact is that some of the employees who were stealing from Albertsons were also involved in the recounting of the merchandise...you can't make this stuff up. And some were related to uppermanagement. When I shared how employee Brad (it may have been Brian-it's been a long time), told me that if I ever wanted discounts, I could go through any of the registers-which I then told Brad "I can't do that." When I made that particular claim, a humbled supervisor spoke up to tell me that was his son. It was after I rebuffed Brad in his generous free offer of Albertson's groceries that my troubles began at this store and I no longer had any friends because everyone there then understood I wasn't going to be a partaker of this dishonesty and I became a threat to them all.
Before Manager Rasmussen was fired, he came to me and told me that he wanted to make me his receiving clerk while adding he wanted his store to start making money. It was this statement from Rasmussen that indicated to me that the receiving clerk was probably the biggest thief in the store...and maybe he was the employee who wrote "fuck you frank" on the backroom wall as the backroom is where the receiving clerk spends most his day. One day when I came into work he whispered into my ear while I was at the register that people can get killed for what I did at the store. To this day I still don't know what I did at this store that should have gotten me killed. Was it possible for me to have tripped over my running feet while transporting a stack of beer from the backroom to the front of the store at 2am that could have split my head wide open hitting the floor that could have cause my death? Anything is possible.
Rasmussen started to send out messages to people in this store that if he goes down he will take others with him. It was remarks that he made like this when upper management made an unannounced noon visit to the store.
So, back to my Boise story: After the funeral, a family member drove me to Albertson's beautiful corporate office, went into the entrance to this building and handed the wrapped up CD gift to the secretary and asked her politely if she could get this to Larry Johnston...and with a big smile she said "I will do that right now." And she did. This secretary representing Albersons' who makes probably a small salary and regardless to that obvious fact she does a great job representing Albertsons. So, Larry Johnston, the epitome of greed and the poster child for incompetency, and while representing a large supermarket chain, probably couldn't tell you what a #303 size can is, was making millions of dollars and he couldn't care less about the 1st floor secretary and her little salary that she receives because he probably spends his time in that same building finding additional ways to make even more money for himself.
Larry Johnston never got back to me to tell me if my CDs would soon be shipped to all of the stores...but can you imagine the sales this CD would provide...especially in the Sacramento stores. In fact, Larry could have work out a lucritive arrangement with NBC to have Christmas music included on my CD with non stop O Holy Night playing as soon as you insert the CD.
I had this wrapped up, with a nice little note inside
that read "Larry, will you please sell my CD about my dad Charles Nordby
at all of the Albertsons' stores like you did for NBC with
their Christmas music in CD format?" LOL