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Idaho CEO What they do that you never learned in school

By Dave Tester



Conversations with CEO’S .................................................................................................................................................15 About the Author......................................................................................................................15

Stan Zatica: Fun job: success


Paul’s Market CEO Stan Zatica had a vision of what a community market should offer.

STAN ZATICA CEO, Paul’s Markets

"Ahh Dave!" You might think I dislike being known as the donut guy in the Paul's commercials, but, over the years, it might be my greatest marketing compliment ever. Paul's markets co-owner, Stan Zatica, and myself came up with the donuts and the infamous tagline – “Ahh Dave!” It happened in the summer 2003 while we were parked in the driveway of my Nampa home. We stumbled on to it. I need not remind you that some of the greatest ideas work out that way. You might recall, golfing legend Gary Player once


said, “The harder I work the luckier I get." The Zatica family, based in Homedale, Idaho, hasn’t relied on luck, but rather hard work. When I was first introduced to Stan's dad, Paul, who founded the stores, I noted a sign in his office, displayed for all to see. It extolled his philosophy of the importance of treating all “customers as guests.” I've never forgotten it and neither has Stan who along with his brother, Steve, who carry-on Paul's tradition. When Stan Zatica’s father, Paul Zatica, first dreamed of opening a grocery store, his vision was simple: Provide services for the smalltowns, making shopping easy. “He came back from serving in the Navy,” Stan recalled. “He went to school at the University of Denver, and then opened his first story a couple months after her graduated.” Born to Basque immigrant parents, he knew what hard work was all about. In the decades that followed, and through two store relocations in Homedale, the Jordan Valley native showed himself to be a hands-on businessman with ideals entrenched firmly in the community. Stan said he learned many things growing up in the grocery business. Key was hard work pays off. Stan worked with his dad for many years, rising through the ranks until he had his turn to take over the business and develop it.


A graduate of Idaho State University, he stepped in as CEO, and has implemented many changes. “I’ve just had a sense that other towns could benefit from the services we have,” Stan said. In 1987, Paul’s Corp. purchased a chain with stores in McCall, Riggins, Hailey and Mountain Home. Stores from that acquisition remain in operation in McCall and Mountain Home. The chain also includes the Homedale flagship store, now on East Wyoming Avenue; two stores in Nampa; a Caldwell store; a Kuna store that opened in 1997; and a Boise store that opened in 2004. During the grand opening of the Boise store at 10565 Lake Hazel Road, the Zatica family solidified its commitment to locally grown food when, joined by then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and then-state Department of Agriculture chief Pat Takasugi. They announced the company’s partnership with Idaho Preferred to promote foods that were grown and processed locally. Stan has directed to the company to become the largest independent grocer in the state of Idaho. If you're looking for rocket science, this may not be the best interview for you. However, if you need to be reminded of the basics of common sense, this will be a great refresher course from a great friend and an outstanding mentor’s mind.


Stan Zatica interview with Dave Stan Zatica: Paul Zatica, my Dad, started Paul’s Market in Homedale, Idaho, in 1955 in a little store. I believe at the time in Homedale, there were four other grocery stores. I was four years old at the time. My sister was two years old and I don’t remember a lot other than when we would go down to the store in the evening as a family. My mother, my father, my sister and I because freight would be delivered to the store and it was always easier to put the freight out in the evening and as a family, we would go down and do that. Now, I was only four years old. How helpful I was, I don’t know, but I do specifically remember my Mother always had me in the cracker section and I was always able to put the saltine crackers on the shelf because it was a light box and it was kind of a square box and easy to handle. So that was probably my first taste of the grocery business when I was four years old. Dave:

You were either a smart cracker, Stan, or a tough cracker. It takes both of those to be an entrepreneur. What, beyond


that, as you got older, more involved in the store, and let’s talk maybe about during the high school years when you were old enough beyond the cracker boxes, things your Dad talked about and things you had to do as a beginning entrepreneur? Zatica:

The one thing my Dad always stressed when I was 12 years old, 16 years old, whatever age working in the store, was honesty is the best policy. Be honest with your customers, be honest with your suppliers, be honest with everybody in every aspect of business. Now, you say that’s “old school.” This day and age, Dave, is it “old school”? Is AIG honest? Are politicians honest? I don’t know what honest is anymore. That is one thing we have always tried to do is be honest, hard-working and do the right thing.


Now, Stan, we talk about do the right thing when no one’s looking and throughout this series, every single entrepreneur, yourself included, have always talked about integrity and honesty. Can you tell us a story with Paul’s where that has either come around to pay off big in dividends where you said I sure am glad I did the right thing when no one was looking?


Zatica: I’m not so sure it was one particular big thing but a lot of times you’ll have a customer that will come to you that has a problem or an issue or a miscommunication because a lot of times that’s what happens. When you have thousands of customers come through your door every day, you have a tendency sometimes to have miscommunication and that is really where the rubber meets the road. Where can you talk to that customer of yours to make them understand why you did what you did on a promotion, on a pricing issue or something in marketing? Most of the time when that customer looks at me and says thanks very much, I appreciate you explaining that to me. And that’s all people want to do. They just want to know exactly why as a company you do something. Dave:

Stan, you mentioned about the rubber meeting the road and with your customers. How about your employees? Knocking on the door of almost 400 employees, what is your – and I don’t know whether I call it your favorite way or your best way, but how do you motivate the customers – or I should say, your workers, into translating your belief to the customers?



In my office and in our board room, we have a sign that says “Treat people with dignity and respect”. So, if I want an associate who works for Paul’s Markets to treat me with dignity and respect, the best way is for me to treat that individual with dignity and respect. And I always, just recently, have adopted, and I’ve expressed it to my store managers, my supervisors, but when I walk to one of my stores and I park out in the parking lot and I walk into the front door, when I get ten yards from the front door, which in football is always a first down. I f you go ten yards, it’s a first down. When I get ten yards from the front door, I smile and I keep that smile on my face and my eyes wide open as I walk ten yards into the store and around the store and I make one walk clear around the store with a smile on my face. And it amazes me how many customers will smile back, how many associates will smile and that’s what I do because when I walk into a grocery store, I live in a glass house. Everybody watches me, everybody wants to see how I’m having a day that day.


Stan, you also do something and one of your philosophies is I work for my employees. I want to give them all the tools.


Kind of explain that when you go to your managers and say what do I need to do to help you be successful at your job? Zatica:

When I meet with anybody, an associate, a department head, a supervisor, anybody in the store and I talk to them, I always ask them what can I do for you? What do I need to do for you? Because I work for them. If I can make their job easier and grease the wheels for them, then I have done my job. They don’t work for me. Because without them, we have nothing as a company and in this day and age and the way the economy is and the way the economic structure of this country is, you have to rely on your people and I work for them.

“If I can make somebody more affluent and more determined in doing their job and having fun in their job, then the more successful this company will be.” If I can make somebody more affluent and more determined in doing their job and having fun in their job, then the more successful this company will be. Dave:

Stan, do you remember whether it was with your Dad or yourself, kind of that big risk moment, whether it was we’re


going to purchase another or store or we’re going to carry a certain line where you look back – I know some people where they say I wish I would have taken more risk. But as an entrepreneur, there’s a lot of risk involved in your business. Do you remember either one of those? Either the first one or that big risk? Zatica:

Yes, I do. Specifically, two of them. When I first came to work back with my Dad after I had worked ten years in the banking business, we had a chance to build a fourth store. We had three stores at the time. When we built that store, it was in the ‘80s and it was about the mid-80s and this country kind of set up on a recession much more – not as severe as today but it was very, very tough for that store – that new store, and it was Caldwell, to turn the corner. We finally got it to turn the corner and then we had an opportunity to buy four grocery stores, double our size. There were four existing grocery stores: Mountain Home, Hailey, McCall and Riggins. And we picked up four stores and doubled our size and that was pretty risky at the time and I think I went through a spell there for just right at four years, I don’t think I took a vacation.



Wow. And do you look back and there are those people now that have had their business for a long time and they’re either struggling or in some cases, losing their business, and I know – I mean, you took a risk in a tough time and there’s other entrepreneurs we’ve talked to that have said, would I do it all over again. Stan, if something happened where you said I lost everything and I’m going to start all over again, would you take those risks?


Oh, I would take those risks. I’m fortunate enough to survive this long because an independent grocery chain this day and age is almost like a dinosaur. Would I take that risk again? Yes, I would because once it’s in your blood and once you figure it out, you’re always going to have that. It’s the competition and it’s the survival.


Stan Zatica, who is one of the owners of Paul’s Markets, visiting with us on Entrepreneur Radio. Stan, I’m going to kind of sum it up as we wrap up here. You talk about smiling; you talk about honesty, hard work and one thing that you’ve always done a good job in the time that we’ve spent together, working with common sense.

Zatica: I think that’s true. So many times this day and age, a lot of people lose touch with common sense, what really makes


sense. I have a cousin, and I won’t give you his name, but he never had a high school education but I admire him because when you talk to him, he just oozes common sense. I just love the guy to death. The other thing is as an entrepreneur, you cannot tell your story enough. Once you figure out your strengths, you have to tell everybody over and over and over. And sometimes as entrepreneurs, we lose that. We just don’t tell our story enough.


“Once you figure out your strengths, you have to tell everybody over and over and over.” – Stan Zatica


A to Zatica Action steps to follow with the Zatica principals of business. 1. Honesty is the best policy. 2. Treat people with dignity and respect. 3. Always have a smile on in front of your customers. 4. Always ask your team “What can I do for you today?� 5. Figure out your strengths and tell that story to prospects. 6. You can never tell your story enough. Tell it over and over.

What did you learn or actions you will take from this interview A. B. C. D.

B. C. D.


About the Author

Dave is a Broadcast personality in the Treasure Valley and partner in Sandler Sales training in Boise. After twenty years as a television and radio on-air broadcaster, his focus now is helping small businesses grow to great companies. "My passion is translating what I have learned from a number of sports legends into great sales and motivational training for people and businesses across the country." His training tools, if used every day, will help you have a more fulfilling way of life, both at home and at work. We hope you enjoy the “Idea Machine� and pass it on to others. Dave is married to Claudia, who is a former television news anchor. They are the parents of two kids: Carson 14 and Clare 12.


Contact Dave Dave’s Website: Dave’s email:

Books: Find a Parade and get in front of it The Marketing Makeover Find a Parade and get in front of it If We Could Sell Like Our Kids The 180Rule Handbook 100k in 365 days The New Testerment Sales Manual


The Idaho CEO: Things they don't talk about in school  

Idaho's top CEOs speak with radio personality and motivational speaker Dave Tester about their successes in starting up a business in Idaho.