Pat Mora: Promoted to manager of new City Market store after 30-year career
Portrait 2011 — Volume 3: Up-and-Comers
When the time came to choose a career path, Pat Mora let the practical side of him overrule the fun-seeking one.
Fresh out of high school in his native Alamosa, Mora was working as a motorcycle mechanic for the local Kawasaki dealership when a friend presented an offer to work for City Market in Silverthorne. Weighing his options, Mora kept a few things in mind.
“People,” he matter-of-factly noted, “always have to eat.”
He also had a sister and two brothers working in the grocery business. The brothers ultimately retired from Safeway.
So at the age of 19, he married his high school sweetheart, Johnnie, and moved to the central Colorado mountains resort town to work as a night stocker.
Thirty years later, Mora still tinkers with cars. He and his 14-year-old son, Michael, are rebuilding a Volkswagen Bug for Michael.
But as Mora looks out from his tinted second-story office window and reflects on a career that has elevated him to manager of the new City Market at 24 and Patterson roads, it’s apparent he made the right decision.
The 49-year-old now oversees 150 employees at the first City Market to be built in the Grand Valley in 21 years. Sales at the new store, the first of its kind in the valley in terms of its environmentally friendly construction and the variety of natural products it sells, have exceeded parent company Kroger’s expectations.
“Every day is new,” Mora said. “Every day you’re making history. We couldn’t be happier with the store.”
In his three decades with City Market, he has held nearly every grocery store job that has shuffled him to, in order, Silverthorne, Alamosa, Fruita, Rifle, Grand Junction, Cañon City and back to Grand Junction. He had two separate stints at the stores at the Eastgate Shopping Center and 200 Rood Ave. His hope, as he climbed the ladder, was always to return to the Grand Valley.
The assortment of duties he performed at the multitude of stores afforded him valuable insight not only into his co-workers and what makes them tick, but into customers and what they want. In turn, that experience taught him to emphasize to employees the impact their jobs carry and try to help them feel good about their work.
Recently, he said, an employee was called in on her day off to help operate the supermarket’s Fuel Center. She mentioned to a customer that in the rush to get into work, she hadn’t had her daily coffee. The customer walked into the store and bought the employee a cup of Starbucks.
“That’s the kind of people we have in the valley and that’s the kind of employees we have who are engaging enough,” Mora said.
Engaging people, whether it be shoppers, employees or vendors, is what Mora enjoys most about his work.
“I like the people aspect of it,” he said. “It’s so cool when a customer comes in first thing in the morning and wants to tell you a story.”
“We’re here to sell you products. But we’re all human beings. We’re here to be neighbors.”