Catalyst

Up Close With… Nicholas Bertram, President, The GIANT Company

Nicholas Bertram is president of The GIANT Company, an omni-channel grocer known to customers as GIANT, MARTIN’S, GIANT Heirloom Market, GIANT Direct and MARTIN’S Direct that has been proudly serving families across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia since 1923.

 

Bertram was appointed to the role in 2017, following years of executive roles at The GIANT Company’s parent company Ahold Delhaize, where he still serves on the U.S. Leadership Team. He began his retail career over 20 years ago at JCPenney, then joining Walmart as a part-time stocker where he spent the next 12 years. He quickly rose in responsibility with leadership roles in store operations, human resources, and innovation. Bertram then went to Jewel-Osco in Chicago as its senior vice president of retail before joining Ahold Delhaize in 2013.

 

Bertram currently serves as chair for the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Chamber. He is also co-chair of the corporate council and a member of the Foundation Board of Overseers for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Most recently, Bertram was named a 2020 Most Admired CEO by The Philadelphia Business Journal. He attained a BBA in marketing from Eastern Kentucky University and an MBA in global management from the University of Phoenix, along with post-graduate programs at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, Harvard and The Wharton School.

 

Grocery store employees have worked through an unprecedented year that has been challenging in many ways, but has also been remarkable in how they’ve been deemed essential to keeping our communities running in the midst of a crisis. If you could say anything to grocery store employees in terms of their value to our society, what would that be?

This has been a noble profession for over 10,000 years, and while the way artisans trade has changed a lot, our purpose in society hasn’t. But humanity sometimes gets distracted and forgets who and what matters to daily life. I am pleased communities are seeing how much grocers matter. For what they have done over the past several months, but more so for what they’ve always done, grocery store employees everywhere deserve our most sincere thanks and respect.

 

How has your work with the PA Chamber helped The GIANT Company navigate the COVID-19 crisis? What do you believe is the greatest challenge that your industry has faced and overcome during this challenging time?

The speed and ambiguity of protection orders have been hard to navigate. It would have been impossible to provide critical feedback to the decision-makers without the Chamber. The Chamber also offers an opportunity for collaboration. For example, I’ve been able to connect to other CEOs who are navigating similar situations, like trying to keep their teams safe while also staying open. Having the Chamber as a resource in facilitating such conversations has been very helpful as we navigate the pandemic.

 

The GIANT Company’s role in helping communities across Pennsylvania has been well documented throughout the pandemic. What effort do you believe has helped people the most, and do you have plans to further these efforts in 2021?

Our collective impact in 2020 is something I’m incredibly proud of, but the one that seemed to help the most was the $500,000 in grants we were able to award to local food producers and growers across the Commonwealth with the help of Team Pennsylvania. I was amazed by the stories I heard from that, and I think it helped keep thousands of people employed.

 

Building on the success of that program, by collaborating with The Hershey Company and Pennsylvania Key, we were able to provide $200,000 in grants to child care centers across the Commonwealth. These funds were essential, as the child care industry has faced significant operational and financial challenges due to the pandemic. It also helped give families peace of mind during a time of uncertainty, helping us deliver on our purpose of connecting families for a better future.

 

Congratulations on your new role as chairman of the PA Chamber’s Board of Directors! How do you feel like your career experience has uniquely prepared you for this role?

My decade living and working in Pennsylvania has taken me to all 67 counties, and I feel like I know the Commonwealth fairly well. But I’ve also worked in other states, so I know where we have disadvantages to growth. I intend to do all I can to end those disadvantages. Pennsylvania should be the place where companies and entrepreneurs want to grow.

 

What are your top priorities as Chairman?  

My top priority is to enable the Chamber staff to execute the strategy our board has approved, seen most visibly in “Bringing PA Back.” Beyond that, I hope to help the Chamber evolve to meet the demands of tomorrow, starting with our board, and inclusive of new and deeper partnerships. I am very optimistic and highly motivated by the fellow Directors I get to serve. 

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Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.