By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Food-4-Less employees will own 20 stores
food 4 less

A locally owned grocery company with 20 stores throughout Central and Northern California will transfer ownership to its 1,800 employees by the end of the year. 

Stockton-based PAQ Inc. – which owns the Manteca and Weston Ranch Food 4 Less Stores as well as other Food 4 Less locations and the Rancho San Miguel Brand – announced last month that upon the retirement of owners John and Pat Quinn as well as Glenn Evans the company would transition to becoming 100 percent employee owned. 

Founded in 1995 with the acquisition of three grocery stores in the Stockton area, PAQ Inc. has since grown its portfolio to include more than 20 stores and a distribution warehouse in Lathrop. 

After more than 20 years at the helm of the organization, the owners say they felt the best course of action was to turn the company over to the very people that made it successful.

“Our team conducted a strategic evaluation of our options and found that the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) was the best choice,” John Quinn said in a statement announcing the transition. “It gives the company back to the people who made it a success. 

“I have thought about an ESOP for over 10 years as a succession plan, and this year we were able to make that plan a reality.”

While the final details of the ESOP have not yet been announced, all eligible employees will become participants in the program this calendar year – in addition to providing employees with robust health care benefits and a 401(k) plan. 

While Food 4 Less in a national grocery store chain currently owned by Kroger and operating in California, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, it was PAQ Inc. that retained the rights to use the name in Central and Northern California. 

The company build the Manteca Food 4 Less location in 2000, just two years after opening its first from-scratch location in Weston Ranch. Rancho San Miguel Market – which caters to the growing Hispanic community in Northern and Central California – first opened in Stockton in 2004 and has since grown to include Ceres, Lodi, Madera, Livingston, and Greenfield. 

The company’s former CFO, Bill Cote, will take over as the CEO and President of PAQ Inc. when the transition is formalized. A number of other existing employees will assume more prominent roles within the company – including Chris Podesto who is being promoted to the role of Senior VP and General Manager, Brad Clark who is being promoted to VP of Operations, and Janice Bloudoff who is being promoted to VP of Human Resources. 

“I am honored to take on the position of CEO and President of PAQ Inc.,” Cote said in a statement. “This is a great company, built on great values, with great people and now the same people that built the company will have an opportunity to own a piece of it.

“I see the company having tremendous opportunities for growth from several different facets.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.