Publix Ownership Is Split Between the Jenkins Family and Employees

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Mar. 1 2021, Published 11:46 a.m. ET

One of the most prominent regional grocery store chains in the U.S., Publix has made a name for itself since the company's 1930 founding. The Jenkins family holds a major stake in the company, particularly since founder George Jenkins' passing in 1996. However, the operation is entirely employee-owned.

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For Publix, it isn't just the 1,252 southeastern U.S. storefronts that prove to be a massive feat. It's also the fact that Publix is the largest employee-owned corporation in the country. Despite that, the Jenkins family maintains a hefty profit and a majority influence in the company's operations. 

Jenkin's family founded Publix, has a sweeping collective net worth

According to Forbes, the Jenkins family is worth a cumulative $8.8 billion. The family members (even those with a different last name) own 80 percent of the company, while employees own the rest.

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The original founder, intimately referred to as Mr. George, started the company as a way to compete against his former employer, Piggly Wiggly. The companies still compete in the grocery store space.

Currently, Todd Jones serves as the Publix CEO. He took over from William "Ed" Crenshaw, Mr. George's grandson and the current chair. Jennifer Jenkins and Howard Jenkins are also on the board. 

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Publix founder's daughter supported Trump rally before the deadly Capitol riot

Julie Jenkins Fancelli is the daughter of Mr. George. A Wall Street Journal report said that Fancelli gave almost $300,000 to the Jan. 6 Trump rally at the Ellipse, a 52-acre park just south of the White House in Washington D.C. The donation amounted to 60 percent of the total cost of the event.

The rally led to the Capitol riot, in which right-wing Trump supporters stormed inside the government building and pressured law enforcement to the point that one rioter ended up shot and others dead.

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Publix has come forward with its own statement in an effort to disassociate the grocery store chain from Fancelli. Publix told WFLA-TV, a Florida news station, that Fancelli isn't representative of the company in any manner. 

The huge donation wasn't Fancelli's first. Previously, she donated upwards of $1 million to the Trump re-election campaign and the Republican party ahead of the November 2020 election.

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Clearly, Publix isn't happy being associated with Fancelli's actions. That doesn't mean that the Publix-affiliated part of the family doesn't have ties with Trump. In fact, Fancelli's own sister, Carol Barnett Jenkins, donated to former Georgia Senator David Perdue as well as a right-leaning PAC. Publix as a company has also donated to former Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam's campaign. 

This monetary behavior led to numerous die-ins in Publix supermarkets based on political affiliation with gun supporters after a deadly school shooting in Florida. 

Employee-owned and family directed

Publix might be 80 percent owned by employees, but the 20 percenters (including Jenkins family and heirs) are clearly leading the charge. Employees and consumers are indirectly supporting right-wing causes in Florida and nationally. Perhaps the responsibility remains at the top of the corporate ladder.

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