Bi-Mart Corporation
220 S. Seneca (Corporate Office)
Eugene, OR 97402
(541) 344-0681
Colleen Cole, Human Resource Manager
January 2002

Summary: Bi-Mart, a Pacific Northwest, employee owned compny has 61 stores, and 3,000 employees throughout Oregon and Washington State. The company is in a growth mode, with plans to add 8 new stores this year. Locally a new store was built at Royal and Danebo in Eugene, and a Veneta location opening in February. Bi-Mart promotes from within. Even the CEO started as a stock person at the 18th & Chambers store! Pay and benefits are comparable with other retail opportunities.

History and structure of Bi-Mart
Bi-Mart began as a brainstorm of 15 businessmen from diverse professions who were looking for a way to market products for less than current retail prices. In 1955, the Fair Trade Laws were in effect which allowed the manufacturer of products to dictate the sales price to the consumer. The only way around this was to have a membership organization. These 15 men each put up $700 and began what is now called Bi-Mart. They charged $1 to join their "membership" store. Over the years, Bi-Mart has been taken over by different corporate entities, but is now wholly employee owned. Bi-Mart’s membership list is NEVER sold, although they do receive daily requests. Bi-Mart now has 61 stores throughout Oregon and Washington, employing over 3,000 people. Their corporate office and warehouse distribution center are located on South Seneca Avenue right here in Eugene. Bi-Mart is in a growth mode. They opened eight new stores last year, including our sixth local store on Royal and Danebo in Eugene. A 7th local store will open in Veneta next month.

Current lifetime membership cost is $5. One popular marketing tool is Lucky # Tuesdays. On Tuesday, the store posts membership numbers, chosen at random, for free store products. This is a bonus for members and also increases shopping on a traditionally slow retail day.

New Development at Bi-Mart
Recently Bi-Mart has separated its institutional Pharmacy clients’ business from the regular Pharmacy, creating a central fill location. These clients are primarily Foster Care Homes and long-term care facilities. The two Pharmacy Clerks’ duties are quite different from the in-store Pharmacy. At the Institutional Pharmacy, there is less filling individual prescriptions, and more preparation of IVs and blister packs.

Career growth
Bi-Mart promotes from within. The current CEO, Marty Smith, began his career with Bi-Mart as a stock person at the 18th & Chambers location 35 years ago! Most Managers started as clerks or cashiers. Some positions, such as Associate Manager, are routinely hired from outside, and Colleen came to the company three years ago after working for twenty years with Thrifty PayLess Drugs and Rite Aid.

How to find out about job openings
Individual stores do their own job posting and interviewing. Look for a sign at their Customer Service desk when a position is available. Applications are not accepted if there is no current opening. Applications are held for 60 days. You need to fill out a new application after that time for additional openings. Corporate (220 Seneca Avenue) has an Employment Board listing all openings system-wide. Bi-Mart also posts jobs openings in the Register Guard, and the Springfield News.

Where to apply for open positions
Locally, Bi-Mart stores can be found at the following addresses:

2030 River Road, Eugene (687-7600)
1680 W. 18th Avenue, Eugene (342-2687)
1470 Royal, Eugene (463-1790)
2510 Willakenzie Rd., Eugene (687-7610)
1521 Mohawk Blvd, Springfield (687-7626)
5744 Main Street, Springfield (942-9101)
100 Gateway Blvd., Cottage Grove (942-9101)
Veneta (open in February 2002)

Positions the store hires:
Receiving, Janitor, Cashier, Clerks (8 departments include: Sporting Goods, Hardware, Photo/Sound, Lobby/Cashier, Drugs, Pet, Hard Goods, and Soft Goods.)

Positions Corporate Office hires: (220 South Seneca, Eugene)
Assistant Managers (always taking applications for this, even when no advertised current openings), Warehouse positions, Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, Pharmacy Clerks, Pharmacy Interns and computer related position in IS Department (programmers, pos systems).

Each position has its own qualifications. For entry-level cashier, an ideal candidate would have some cash handling and customer service experience. GED is not required. In the Pharmacy it would be good to have some health care or medical terminology knowledge or experience. That position also requires that you stand on your feet for 8 hours a day.

The minimum wage at Bi-Mart is $6.75 for entry level with no experience (in Washington state, it is $6.90). The company does give credit for up to two years of previous work experience, which could increase the starting rate of pay. 80% of Bi-Mart’s employees are full-time because Bi-Mart feels full-time employees have a dedication to the company. Bi-Mart offers a good benefit package to full-time (32 hours or more) employees, which include medical, dental, paid holidays and vacations. Employees become eligible for medical, prescription coverage, and holiday pay after three months, dental, vision and vacations after one year of employment. Another unique, and significant benefit offered, is the employee discount of cost + 10%. Bi-Mart is open 7 days a week, but the hours of operation are deliberately employee friendly: Mon.-Fri. 9am-8pm, Sat. 9am-6pm, and Sun. 10am-6pm.

Bi-Mart recognizes that today’s consumer has many options about where to shop, and believes repeat business depends on excellent customer service. The stores provide extensive training in customer service and cash handling for all employees. Bi-Mart has it’s own paid training program for Pharmacy Clerks and Pharmacy Technicians. The state of Oregon only requires being registered with the Board of Pharmacy to be present in a pharmacy. Oregon is not a certified state, meaning you must pass a state exam to be a technician, such as Washington and California. Associate Manager training requires the candidate be willing to re-locate within the Pacific Northwest to a designated "training store," where they will learn hands-on all the specifics of management.

Application/Interview process
Pick up an application for open positions either at the local store or at corporate, depending upon the position, and as indicated above under "Where to Apply for Jobs." The process is essentially the same for all locations.

Bi-Mart stops taking applications for new store hiring once they have received 450. Colleen said the company application is quite comprehensive, but it needs to be filled out completely, signed, and dated. Make it easy for the recruiter to consider your application. Colleen receives between 50 and 60 applications each day for Warehouse positions alone. If a particular application is incomplete or illegible, it won’t be considered.

Colleen will review the application and call you for a first interview (15-20 minutes long) for preliminary evaluation. Background checks and references are checked on everyone interviewed. A 2nd interview would include a drug screen. Bi-Mart has 0% tolerance for drugs or alcohol in the workplace. If hired, each new employee goes through a complete training program and orientation.

Current Openings (1/2/02)
River Road stores has an opening for Janitor, Warehouse has openings on 3rd shift (11:30pm – 8:30am), Institutional Pharmacy Clerk (2), Site Selection Specialist (finds physical sites for new stores – requires some background in Real Estate, permitting and licensing).

Question and Answer Period

What about past history with drugs?
Past drug or criminal history will not automatically bar you from employment. Each case is decided on its own merits.

Why is there a Union rep outside handing out leaflets about contract problems?
Bi-Mart has been in negotiation with the Union for over 3 years. The negotiations have not resulted in a final decision as of yet.

How do you follow-up on an application already turned in at a store?
Applications are held for 90 days, if not interviewed and one year if interviewed. After that time, you will need to fill out a new one.

How do you handle gaps in work history?
Identify the gaps…what were you doing? If you were at home with the children, or at school, tell us why you weren’t working.

Is being bi-lingual a plus?
Yes, it is. All languages are appreciated. One store was looking for Russian speaking employees.

What do the Warehouse employees do?
Operate equipment to unload merchandise from trucks for distribution to individual stores, pull orders for individual stores.

Is there still a chance to get hired for the Veneta store?
Applications are now closed for that store, but there is always a possibility that a new employee will not successfully complete Orientation. Check in with the store itself after it has opened.

Thank you, Colleen, for this very in-depth look at Bi-Mart employment.

Kate Parker
Lane Workforce Partnership

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