Mariano’s job fair draws hundreds
Mariano's Fresh Market's Harwood Heights store manager Mike Binder tells job seekers a little about the history of the company at the job fair for Harwood Heights residents at village hall on Saturday. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:36AM
HARWOOD HEIGHTS — Bryan Perez is no stranger to Mariano’s Fresh Market.
He’s gone to the store on Elston Avenue in Chicago.
“When my parents renewed their wedding vows, they got their cake from there,” he said. “It was amazing.”
So when the store held a job fair last weekend to give Harwood Heights residents first shot at jobs at their new store opening soon in the village, Perez had to be there.
He was impressed with the way the company operates.
“I like what they’re about,” he said. “I want to be a part of that.”
Lots of people felt the same way, showing up Saturday and Sunday to apply for about 450 available positions at the store.
Mariano’s Fresh Market at Lawrence and Oketo avenues is expected to open around mid-April.
Openings are split into the categories of store operations, such as managers; customer service, including cashiers, baristas and floral designers; non-perishable areas that include general merchandise; and perishable areas such as meat, produce and seafood.
Of those spots, only one has been filled, said store manager Mike Binder.
“That would be mine,” he said.
About 180 people showed up Saturday to apply; another 180 came Sunday.
Gaurav Segel, with the company’s human resources department, said the job fair gave Mariano’s the chance to describe what it does and to help job seekers learn about opportunities available.
“And to give them a chance to meet us in person,” he added.
The new business has been the subject of many a heated debate, starting with a Dec. 1, 2011, Harwood Heights Village Board Committee of the Whole meeting that included a presentation by representatives of Bradford Real Estate Companies and Roundy’s, the parent company of Mariano’s.
Since that time, the village has held myriad open meetings, noted Village President Arlene Jezierny.
In addition to concerns by nearby residents about a reduced quality of life due to an increase in traffic and noise, others questioned the cost to the village to entice Mariano’s to Harwood Heights.
Jezierny said any expenses incurred by the village would be reimbursed through sale tax revenue.
Elizabeth Tabet did her research before applying for a position.
“I heard about the job fair from my aunt,” she said, “So I looked up the company” online.
What she found was a company for which she felt she could feel comfortable working.
“It’s what I wanted,” she said. “It’s close by, and it seemed to fit what I was looking for.”
That would be a job in customer service at a competitive wage, and a company that gives back to service organizations.
She also was impressed that Mariano’s began its hiring process by seeking out local applicants.
“It’s nice that they put Harwood Heights first,” Tabet said.
Segel said the company accepts applications from people with myriad backgrounds, whether it is a high school degree or an advanced post-secondary one.
“We hire people from all backgrounds,” he said, “and they don’t even need to have experience.
“We can teach anyone a skill,” he added. “We believe in teaching, training and development.”
What the company looks for in an employee is the ability to connect with people.
“You have to have a great attitude, a great personality and a knack with people,” Segel said. “What we do best is taking care of the customer.”
Segel said he was impressed with quality of applicants.
“The residents are great,” he said. “It will be a pleasure to be in this community.”