George Giannouloudis Is Stewarding the Future of Roche Bros.

Director of facilities and capital improvements George Giannouloudis is renovating the Boston supermarkets of Roche Bros. with an eye toward their history

Photo by BHDP Architecture

George Giannouloudis has strong roots in Boston. He studied physical education and coaching in college and later worked as a public school teacher in the area. In 1987, he started working as a part-time maintenance technician at Shaw’s, a local grocer. He needed the extra money; teachers were struggling.

“That was my start in supermarkets and facilities,” he recalls. “It was great; that was an environment that I got to learn from the ground up. I got to see from the ground level the things that happened with supermarkets and facilities and construction.”

But, as Giannouloudis continued to grow, he became eager to learn from the professionals in management and leadership. “I really envied them for how they managed the business, how they communicated, how they were integral to the business as a whole,” he says. Embracing that desire to grow—and struggling with the economic distress of teaching—he decided to commit to a career in facilities.

George Giannouloudis, Roche Bros

He moved into management, then regional management, for a total of 26 years at Shaw’s.

In 2015, a Roche Bros. recruiter came calling with a directorship opportunity. It’s a prominent brand in the area, and Giannouloudis needed little persuasion.

“Roche Bros. didn’t need to be sold to me,” he says. “I knew them as a competitor. Their reputation speaks for itself, so I was very happy when they came calling for me.”

As director of facilities and capital improvements, his responsibilities include construction, remodeling, contracting, and daily facilities operations. It’s a broad, complex position—but, he says, it’s exactly what he’s wanted to do since starting in the field 30 years ago.

Grocery facilities are uniquely challenging: refrigeration and food safety are the obvious concerns, but there are also questions of loss prevention, garbage removal, cost control, and power. The age of a building can compound these difficulties; Massachusetts winters complicate them further. Amid such challenges, Giannouloudis balances the financial concerns: he promised a dollar figure in savings when he signed on, but he never defers to maintenance to make a budget.

His first project was a new store in downtown Boston, at the century-old Burnham Building. The historic structure sits adjacent to a more recent addition: Millennium Tower, the tallest building in Boston. A Roche Bros. market spans the two sites at the basement and ground levels.

“All the buildings I’ve worked on are historical to the towns they’re in,” he says. “That’s definitely something I enjoy. I love history, and it definitely adds to the job.”

One of his recent highlights was the boutique-format Brothers Marketplace in Weston, MA, about 15 miles west of Boston. The store (a remodeled acquisition) is a great example of the company’s commitment to locality, Giannouloudis says. Outside, a mural celebrates the area’s history and most famous local landmark, the town hall. Inside, the décor and graphics complement the town’s colonial feel. Plus, Roche Bros. sourced local products wherever possible.

“We try to show our knowledge of the town so customers can feel it’s theirs. They can take ownership in the building and the business as well,” Giannouloudis says. “Everything is geared to the town that the store is in.”

Thanks to that sense of community partnership, Giannouloudis says, Roche Bros. customers are uniquely loyal. That was well proven throughout 2017’s renovation of the West Roxbury store—which was completed without stopping business. They didn’t close even for a minute; construction was completed entirely at night, with a particular emphasis on the safety of daytime shoppers and associates. The customers have been ecstatic, he says, which has made all the difficulty worthwhile.

Roche Bros. has just signed leases for two new stores, which will be opportunities for Giannouloudis to continue developing his leadership style.

“I look forward to trying not to be so on edge about completing the projects,” Giannouloudis explains. “I know that sounds weird from a construction guy, but it really is an exciting process. As I get older, I want to try to enjoy what’s going on as opposed to rushing through it.”

He credits age with some of that perspective. These are opportunities to teach, to build partnerships, and to take care of the professional relationships that make this work possible.

“When I was a young manager, everything was a hundred miles an hour,” he says. “I was ego driven. As you get on, you learn that you can’t operate that way and be successful. The people who have known me the longest will say that’s my biggest change: I tend to see the big picture now, I tend to be more understanding. That just makes me a better manager and a better person.”

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cm&b congratulates Roche Brothers Supermarkets on the grand reopening of their newly renovated store in West Roxbury, MA.  We are proud to have partnered with the Roche Brothers team on the construction of this exciting project as well as their new Brothers Marketplace store, soon to be completed in Waltham, MA.