Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Business

Five questions with Earth Fare’s president and CEO, Frank Scorpiniti

OLDSMAR ó Although he doesnít recommend it, Frank Scorpiniti, the president and CEO of Earth Fare, an organic and natural foods grocery store based in Asheville, N.C., likes to say customers can shop his store blindfolded.

"You can take a buggy from one end to another with your eyes closed and know you are not putting in it any dirty food, none of that bad stuff, because we do not have it in the store ó no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial sweeteners, trans fats. It is all part of our clean food philosophy," he said.

We caught up with Scorpiniti this month while he was in town for the launch of the corporationís 43rd location. The 24,000-square-foot store is at Woodlands Square Plaza, 3136 Tampa Road. With 100 employees, it is the seventh Earth Fare in Florida and the second in Tampa Bay (Seminoleís location opened in 2016).

Scorpiniti, who holds a doctorate degree in pharmacy from the University of the Pacific, is the former chief executive officer of Rexall Pharma Plus, based in Ontario. He joined Earth Fare three years ago.

Was it a conscious decision to move your career from pharmaceuticals to natural foods?

It was intriguing that for a better part of 20 years, I was working with teams to help people with ailments get better with medication. However, that is more or less treating the disease that is already there and not always getting to the causality of the personís issues that would include diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia ó all diseases that often are food-based and are long-term results of not eating appropriately. I saw so many people that could benefit from having a more holistic approach to their health care. Food is medicine. Itís all, as we say, clean in this store. Thatís what intrigued me to come.

The health and wellness industry deals with such a personal part of a customerís life. As you expand with more stores, is it a challenge to keep the customerís experience on that personal level?

When I look back at the pharmacy business, it is centered on health, and as you say it is extremely intimate to the diagnosis and treatment. What we do here is also that way with our wellness adviser, what we call our wellness center and some of our wellness power stations. They are very intimate. When you scale and accelerate, you can lose that essential magic in the business, which for us goes back 42 years. Back in January, as we worked on accelerating our business, we, I like to say, renewed our vows. We started the Live Longer campaign with our food philosophy, the promise of only clean foods. We call it a manifesto, and actually I think itís more important to us on the inside and how we do things than on the outside.

You have competition in the area, places like the new Sprouts in Palm Harbor, Whole Foods in Clearwater. What is biggest challenge in this market?

The grocery business is highly competitive and very dynamic, and there are always going to be efforts and new ways on how to bring products to customers. At the same time, Earth Fare is so different from those competitors in our commitment to our food philosophy and staying clean. It makes us the only one who really does what we do.

There is something brand new to your industry going on with Whole Foods and Amazon coming together, and the way Amazon delivers their products. Are you worried?

I wouldnít say worried. Iíd say inspired. They really needed the brick and mortar to really put its proposition into the communities. So communities need a presence for fresh, prepared foods like Earth Fare. Every time competition comes into the market, it gives us an opportunity to look within ourselves and work to become a little more nimble and improve quality for what we do for our customers every day.

Why did you choose Seminole and Oldsmar over Tampa for your stores, and will you add more stores to the area?

We are actively looking for locations in the greater Tampa area. We will ultimately be in Tampa. We are looking for communities that are seeking a path to living a healthier, longer life. Itís a little bit about the magnetism of bringing options to moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas and brothers and sisters, everyone who wants access to an easy and healthy shopping environment.

Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.

Comments
What a Fed rate hike means for you, at any age

What a Fed rate hike means for you, at any age

No matter your age, what the Federal Reserve does to interest rates will most likely affect you.Economists say the central bank is nearly certain to raise what's called the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point Wednesday to a range of...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Whole Foods can now deliver through Amazon Prime Now

Tampa Bay Whole Foods can now deliver through Amazon Prime Now

Tampa Bay Whole Foods Market shoppers can finally get organic goodies delivered to their homes in a few hours as members of Amazon Prime. Amazon announced today that Whole Foods has added Tampa, nine other metro areas and parts of Seattle and New Yor...
Updated: 3 hours ago
St. Pete is building a $79 million police HQ. The roof is already leaking

St. Pete is building a $79 million police HQ. The roof is already leaking

ST. PETERSBURG ó The cityís new $79 million police headquarters which is rising off First Avenue N has hit another snag.This time, itís a damaged roof.Workers were installing the roof when an issue was discovered with one of the layers, causing it to...
Updated: 11 hours ago
FEMA rolling out new flood zone maps for Tampa Bay counties

FEMA rolling out new flood zone maps for Tampa Bay counties

Thousands of Tampa Bay-area property owners could soon find themselves with new flood zone designations on their homes and businesses.The Federal Emergency Management Agency has completed a years-long study to update flood zone maps in Hillsborough, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rep. Charlie Crist urges federal consumer watchdog to investigate Marlin Financial

Rep. Charlie Crist urges federal consumer watchdog to investigate Marlin Financial

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is calling for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate Marlin Financial, saying he was "disturbed" by a recent Tampa Bay Timesí investigation into the online auto finance company. In a letter Tuesday af...
Published: 09/25/18
Dunkin' to drop Donuts, change name in January

Dunkin' to drop Donuts, change name in January

Dunkin' is dropping the donuts — from its name, anyway.Doughnuts are still on the menu, but the company is renaming itself "Dunkin'" to reflect its increasing emphasis on coffee and other drinks.The change will officially take place ...
Published: 09/25/18
Struggling against Red Tide, a Redington Beach liquor store is too small to qualify for local aid

Struggling against Red Tide, a Redington Beach liquor store is too small to qualify for local aid

REDINGTON BEACH ó Mark Wilson hasnít had a customer for hours.As the only liquor store on his stretch of Pinellas County beaches, Wilson is used to a steady stream of tourists from the nearby condos and hotels. Other beachfront businesses affected by...
Published: 09/25/18
Weight Watchers slims its name down to WW

Weight Watchers slims its name down to WW

Weight Watchers is its dropping its brand name in exchange for something slimmer: "WW." The company says the new logo - coupled with the tagline "Wellness that Works" -- puts an emphasis on overall health and well being, with less...
Published: 09/24/18
Study: Some Tampa Bay neighborhoods among quickest selling in the state

Study: Some Tampa Bay neighborhoods among quickest selling in the state

Tampa Bay sounds like a home sellerís dream market ó even compared to other locales statewide. According to a recent study by SmartAsset, four of the top 10 easiest places to sell a home in Florida are in the bay area. Northern Hillsborough County ac...
Published: 09/24/18
Lower demand brings slight dip in gas prices across state, Tampa Bay

Lower demand brings slight dip in gas prices across state, Tampa Bay

Just in time for fall, pump prices are finally declining. Gas prices in Florida averaged $2.72 per gallon Monday, down from $2.74 per gallon a week ago, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Tampa Bay prices were even lower at $2.63 per gallon, down...
Published: 09/24/18