Love Where You Least Expect It
02/11/2021 · Newsroom Highlight
Working in close proximity day after day, week after week, relationships are bound to form between coworkers in any industry. Wegmans employees often talk about the family feeling among their coworkers or at their store, and with more than 50,000 employees, many truly are family.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we asked employees to share their stories of finding love at Wegmans. In response, we heard tales of decade–old romances, moves across state lines, children, fur babies, and so much more. Here are a few of our favorites:
Wil Rivera and Gladys Avila
When Wil Rivera and Gladys Avila were hired to open the new Medford, Massachusetts store in 2017, neither expected to find love along with a career. Wil’s job in maintenance required him to travel throughout the store, interacting with people in various departments, including the front end where he met Gladys. One day, she mentioned to Wil that she was looking to pick up more hours each week. Wil suggested that Gladys speak with her manager about working some extra hours in maintenance, and while she initially hesitated, soon his persistence paid off.
“I would ask her every time I saw her if she’d applied to work on maintenance, and she always said ‘no, not yet’,” said Wil. “Eventually she became part of the maintenance team and we got to spend more time working together. Little by little, our feelings for each other started to grow.”
The couple found that they have many things in common; they both have older children and family outside of the country. Wil’s parents live in Puerto Rico, while most of Gladys’ family is in Honduras. Gladys introduced Wil to her youngest son, 7-year-old Isaac, and the two immediately hit it off.
“Wil and Isaac get along so well,” said Gladys. “My son is home because of the pandemic. It’s tough, but Wil takes care of him on the days when I have to work. Wil is so helpful with him. They love each other a lot.”
Over the years, Wil and Gladys have moved on to new positions within the store, but they still make a point of checking in with each other every day.
“We try to take our breaks together,” said Wil. “If we’re working opposite shifts, I’ll stop by her department when I get to the store to say hello, or she’ll bring me a snack before she leaves for the day. She’s a very caring person. It’s one of the things I love about her.”
Outside of work, they enjoy spending time together, cooking, going to the park, and watching movies.
“Everyone at Wegmans is so kind and encouraging of our relationship,” said Wil. “I am so glad that I met her here. I didn’t realize before what was missing in my life.”
Kelsey Hill and Jessica Brown
For Kelsey Hill, finding love at Wegmans was fate. Her parents met at Wegmans and both have worked for the company for over 30 years. The Rochester, New York native met her fiancé, Jessica Brown, at the Chantilly, Virginia Wegmans in late 2018 while looking for a roommate.
“I was moving to Virginia Beach to help open the floral department,” said Kelsey. “One of the managers mentioned that Jessica was also going to be working there, so I went to the bakery to meet her.”
Jessica is also a Rochester transplant. She moved to Virginia to open the Chantilly store in 2018, where Kelsey, “the cute girl in floral,” caught her eye. Her bakery coworkers encouraged her to talk with Kelsey and the two started spending time together. They decided to be roommates and found a place to live in Virginia Beach. After moving in together, they realized they were more than friends and started dating, but working opposite schedules created some challenges.
“It was taking a toll on us, so we talked to our managers,” said Kelsey. “Now we have designated days off every month together. I really appreciate their flexibility and willingness to work with us to help create some work/life balance.”
On their days off, the couple enjoys spending time together with their two rescue dogs, Charlie and Kenna.
“The pandemic has been very difficult, especially in the beginning when we really felt isolated because we were spending a lot of time home alone,” said Jessica. ““Our dogs get us out of the house. We take them to the park or the beach, anywhere that we can bring the dogs.”
Wedding planning has also been a challenge because of the pandemic. In December 2019, Jessica and Kelsey got engaged during a trip to New York City, and the couple began piecing together their dream wedding.
“We created a guest list, found a venue, catering, all the works, but then the pandemic hit,” said Kelsey. “Now we’re going to have an intimate ceremony with just our parents and siblings in June at a park near Rochester. Next summer, we’ll have a big celebration with all of our family and friends.”
Matt and Kellen Balutis
It all started with a cup of coffee for Matt and Kellen Balutis. In 2012, Matt took a temporary position rolling out a new initiative at Wegmans stores throughout Pennsylvania, rotating to the Harrisburg location in mid-August.
“Kellen worked part-time in the coffee shop and we’d make small talk whenever I ordered a drink,” said Matt. “I drank a lot of coffee during those three months.”
At an event outside of work, the two sparked up a conversation and the relationship blossomed from there. When Matt moved on from the Harrisburg store to continue his assignment, they found creative ways to make a long-distance relationship work.
“I’d work 5 days at the store and then one of us would drive to the other so we could spend the weekend together,” said Matt.
In April 2016, Matt surprised Kellen with a marriage proposal in front of the iconic LOVE sculpture in Philadelphia. The two were married in October 2017 and relocated to North Carolina in 2019 after purchasing their first home there.
Currently, Kellen works as the Market Café Manager at Wegmans Raleigh while Matt is assisting with opening the new Wake Forest store as the service and merchandising manager.
“We both saw so much potential in moving to North Carolina,” said Matt. “There are lots of opportunities to grow as the company is planning to open new stores here, and it’s a great location to settle down and start a family someday.”
Tim and Maria Lockwood
Tim and Maria Lockwood met at a Wegmans full–time orientation event in the early 1990s while playing volleyball.
“I went up to spike a ball and she blocked it right back in my face,” said Tim. “We started dating five or six months later.”
The couple was married in 1996, and their careers at Wegmans brought them from New York to Pennsylvania to New Jersey. Along the way, they added three children to the family, Jeremy, Justin, and Jillian. Working at Wegmans provided them with the flexibility to raise a family.
“After our first son was born, Maria had the opportunity to step down to part-time pharmacist and then return to full-time again when she was ready,” said Tim. “As the kids grew, we were able to be there for any of their events that we wanted to attend.”
All three Lockwood children are now Wegmans employees as well. Jeremy and Justin work in the produce department while taking college classes and Jillian is in the bakery as she finishes up her last year of high school. Jeremy plans to join Wegmans full-time as a management trainee after he graduates this spring, following in his parents’ footsteps.
“I truly believe that Wegmans is the best company to work for, as well as the finest market in the world,” said Tim. “Watching our kids grow with this company that I love fills me with great joy and pride.”
Tim is currently the store manager at the Hanover, N.J. location, while Maria serves as the pharmacy manager at the Montvale, N.J. store. The couple will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this October.