In my role as the meat sales manager at ARO, I spend much of my time working with the meat departments, and supporting programs, at the company’s corporate stores. In all, I’ve spent the last 14 years helping ensure our guests have the highest quality options, fantastic service and competitive prices. One of the great things about my job is the “research” I get to do at home. I have a beautiful wife and three incredible kids and we often gather for family events at our house. Whether it’s a tender, thick-cut rib eye or a delicious flat iron steak, I enjoy preparing great meals in the backyard.

To me, there’s something truly special about the art of preparing a perfect steak. It’s not just about throwing it on the grill and hoping for the best. It requires dedication, attention to detail and a genuine passion for the craft. As I reflect on the process, I can’t help but draw parallels to our work at Associated Food Stores.

Just like preparing a steak, being dedicated at work is all about giving it our all, even when our efforts might be behind the scenes. It’s about embracing the challenge and committing ourselves to delivering nothing but the best. It’s that unwavering focus and determination that sets us apart from the rest.

When preparing a perfect steak, you pay attention to every little detail. You use a great source (like an AFS member, of course!), marinate it just right, season it with care and ensure it’s grilled just like you want it. Similarly, in our work, we must approach every task with the same level of meticulousness. We strive for precision, leaving no stone unturned, and take pride in the quality of our work.

But here’s the thing: preparing a perfect steak takes time. It’s not an instant process. It requires patience, practice and a willingness to learn from our mistakes. The same holds true for our careers. We may face setbacks, encounter challenges and even make a few errors along the way. (Yes, I’ve overcooked a few steaks in my time.) But it’s in those moments we learn and grow. It’s through perseverance and dedication that we hone our skills and become better.

Just like a person who pours their heart and soul into crafting the ideal steak, we too must invest our energy, passion and dedication into our work. We strive to exceed expectations, surprise our guests and leave lasting, positive impressions. At the end of the day, it’s that extra effort, the attention to detail, that separates the ordinary from the extraordinary.

Let’s embrace the spirit of preparing a perfect steak in our work. Let’s bring our passion, our dedication and our commitment to every task. Let’s savor the process, learn from our experiences and consistently strive for excellence. When we give our best, we create something truly remarkable—a masterpiece that not only satisfies our hunger for success but also leaves a lasting impact on those we serve.

Ryan Woodfield is the ARO meat sales manager and has worked in the grocery industry for 30 years.