Texans “love” their H-E-B. That love was on display in full force Nov. 12 as Lake Houston community leaders got a sneak peek at the San Antonio-based company’s newest creation – H-E-B Market at Northpark, a mere 24 hours before the superstore on Northpark Drive at Highway 59 opened to the adoring public.

Spreading the H-E-B love during the sneak peek was general manager and Kingwood resident Blake Willenborg.

This is Willenborg’s first time as top manager of an H-E-B. He began his career as a bagger in high school and, after 15 years with the H-E-B family, he knows what makes H-E-B so distinctive to its passionate customers.

“Being a good neighbor is at the core of what we believe and how H-E-B does business,” Willenborg said. “We are committed to making a positive difference in the communities we serve and that includes Kingwood.”

Willenborg says Lake Houston residents will see H-E-B partners out in the community volunteering, supporting local organizations through their corporate philanthropy committed to hunger relief, education, health, military support, environmental sustainability and diversity initiatives.

“It’s called H-E-B’s Spirit of Giving, our way of saying thank you for being our neighbor,” he said.

In that Spirit of Giving, Willenborg announced a $5,000 community gift to Mission Northeast, a not-for-profit charitable organization that provides basic needs, adult education programs and disaster relief to individuals and families in need.

The Northpark store, according to the official press release, will offer the largest assortment of Texas-made products, a healthy living department featuring bulk foods, fresh seafood and meat markets, scratch bakery and tortilleria, 350 different kinds of cheeses, a wine and beer selection overseen by a wine manager on duty for tastings, a fuel station and car wash and drive-thru pharmacy.

The 102,000-square-foot store is packed with innovative and convenient ways to grocery shop – online orders, curbside service, home delivery or picking up one of H-E-B’s “Meal Simples,” chef-inspired meals ready to serve in minutes.

Customers who want to share H-E-B’s unique Texas grocery items can ship them to 48 states and military bases worldwide by going to the heb.com website.

The proof that Lake Houstonians love their H-E-B is showcased in an American Customer Satisfaction Index that ranked H-E-B third among grocery chains nationally.

The family-owned company began a stock plan in 2015 for their 55,000 employees who, over time, will own approximately 15% of the company.

After Hurricane Harvey, H-E-B started a customer campaign to raise relief money by donating $100,000, brought in mobile kitchens and disaster relief units to serve thousands of hot meals to victims and first responders, then donated $1 million to a relief fund.

Newcomers may think H-E-B stands for “Here, Everything’s Better,” but Texans know they’re the initials of Howard Edward Butt, the son of the original founder, Florence Butt, who opened Mrs. C. C. Butt’s Staple and Fancy Grocery in Kerrville in 1905.

Eater, a website that focuses on food and dining, declared H-E-B one of just a few cult grocery stores in America declaring “… H-E-B is a way of life.”

Eater wrote, “You don’t just move to Texas, it moves into you and H-E-B captures that spirit, with the hundreds of Texas-shaped items packed for sale in their aisles including party trays, cutting boards, pecan cakes, cheeses and tortilla chips all cut into the recognizable shape of Texas.”

H-E-B Northpark is the anchor tenant of a newly opened development, Kingwood Place, a 54-acre site developed by Stratus Properties. In addition to H-E-B, multiple tenants have signed, including Starbucks, Twin Liquors, Snooze-an AM Eatery, Pacific Dental Services, Nails of America, and Chase Bank. A large open area next to the new H-E-B may be designated for H-E-B Digital Delivery that will focus strictly on curbside and delivery service.

The new store employs 400 partners. In addition to Willenborg as general manager, Dora Gallegos is the center store leader, Jason Kelley is the perishable leader, and Cynthia Perez is the community coordinator.

“I feel privileged to serve the Kingwood area in this role,” said Willenborg. “I am excited to open this new store and provide customers access to their own H-E-B, offering an amazing selection of products paired with outstanding service. As Kingwood, Porter, New Caney and Humble continue growing rapidly, this store will be a great addition to the area.”

For more information about HEB’s newest store, visit HEB.com.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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