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Wegmans Food Markets has scored a hat trick -- having been named to Fortune magazine's list of the "Top 100 Companies to Work for in America" for the third consecutive year.

Robert Wegman, chairman of the privately-held, Rochester-based supermarket chain, said the three-peat is especially sweet because Fortune selects the top scoring businesses based on employee comments.

"There are no words to express the pride and gratitude I feel for our people, who through their hard work and dedication have made it possible for us to be ranked among the best in America," Wegman said.

Wegmans came in 50th in the 100-company list and was the highest ranked retailer. In 1997, the first year Fortune compiled the list, Wegmans came in No. 16, and was ranked No. 43 last year.

As in previous years, Fortune tapped best-selling authors Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz to compile the list, using the same methodology they employed in their book "The 100 Best Companies to Work For in America."

A group of 236 companies were chosen from a data base of more than 1,000 businesses, then employees of those companies were randomly surveyed, giving their evaluations on such topics as trust in management, pride in work and camaraderie. Two-thirds of the ranking is based on employee feedback about their employer.

According to Fortune, companies on this year's list were exceptional for the lengths to which they went to help employees balance their home and work lives. Also of note is that 91 of the companies on the list offer workers scholarships or tuition reimbursement.

Wegmans, with 59 supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is the No. 2 supermarket chain in the Buffalo market.

Meanwhile, Royal Ahold USA, the parent company of Williamsville-based Tops Markets, Inc., has been named retailer of the year by Progressive Grocer, a leading food industry publication.

Progressive Grocer cited Ahold's ability to tap its global resources, retain a local flavor in its individual chains, consistency of leadership and strategic planning. In detailing Ahold's accomplishment, the magazine noted that "In a world where the glitz of globalization can easily out-shadow the daily grind of doing the right thing locally, Ahold USA stands out like a beacon."

The award credited the work of those heading each of Ahold's five U.S. operating units, including Steve Odland, the president and chief executive officer of Tops, which oversees Tops Friendly Markets, Wilson Farms and B-Kwik stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Tops in the Buffalo market's No. 1 ranked supermarket chain.

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