Every month we’ll be spotlighting a different Woodlands employee to connect you with our team and learn more about what they do day in and day out to keep their departments running smoothly. We appreciate our hard-working employees and want you to get to know them!
Karla Ramirez has been a part of the Woodlands family for 17 years. She has worked her way up to managing our Tiburon store, where she ensures that all departments function as a community, both for her employees and customers.
How did you start working at Woodlands?
I went to school at College of Marin in the 90s, and my brother was working at Woodlands in Kentfield at the time. He told me that it was a great company to work for and suggested that I get a job at the store. It was directly next to the school—all I had to do was cross the parking lot and I would be at work.
I started working in Kentfield as a cashier in 2001 and was promoted to a money counter after six months. After that, I was moved to bookkeeping for about two years before being promoted to Customer Service Manager. I was in that role for a long time before I was promoted to Assistant Store Manager.
After leaving Woodlands for a couple of years to try something different, I came back in 2015 and was promoted to Store Manager. I helped to open the San Francisco store from the ground up and get it on its feet, and soon after that I joined the Tiburon team.
Having worked at all three Woodlands locations, how would you compare them?
Our three stores all operate very differently, Kentfield being our largest store with the most volume and the fastest pace. Tiburon has a different clientele, with less volume. San Francisco is of course completely different than the other two—it’s much more urban and has more grab-and-go items.
Take us through a typical day for you as Store Manager in Tiburon.
What I like about being a store manager is that every day is completely different—nothing is ever the same, but it’s always busy. On any given day, I’ll come in around 5 am, greet and check in with my department managers and staff and make sure that the store is ready to open for our customers. After that, the day will unfold in different ways. I’ll tackle different projects, whether help is needed in receiving or in the produce department. I’m very hands-on with my staff—I’ll work different departments on different days, or sometimes I’ll do administrative work, putting together schedules and different projects.
We always try to partner up with great vendors and suppliers to deliver the best products for our customers. For example, we’ve just started offering grocery items and cooking products from Williams Sonoma, which we’re excited about.
We’re currently working to reach out to the Tiburon community, to touch base with different organizations such as the Rotary Club or the Tiburon Chamber of Commerce and build a good relationship with Tiburon’s schools. Community is so important to everyone here at Woodlands, and we want to be a part of our neighbors’ everyday lives.
Our customers are what makes our Tiburon store unique. We’re like the community market here—our cashiers know our customers by name, and often know little anecdotes about them. Our staff has built a bond with our customers—they’ll often know what kind of sandwich a customer wants, or what their coffee order is.
What is an example of a recent challenge you faced at the store and how you resolved the issue?
Quality and customer service are things that we’re always working on. Recently, there was a customer who wasn’t satisfied with the quality of our produce, and that’s something that I’ve been very hands-on in addressing. I’ve been keeping track of which vendors we receive certain products from and make sure that the produce arrives at our store in perfect condition. If it doesn’t, we’ll return it and make sure we get credit for it. Once we put the produce out on the floor, it needs to be the highest quality for our customers—if it’s not then I’ll pull it.
What is your favorite part of working at Woodlands?
I’ve had a chance to work at all three stores, and I appreciate where I am now. I’ve built some great relationships here in Tiburon with our staff, and I’m passionate about getting to know them on a personal level. There are a lot of Woodlands employees who have worked with us for over 20 years. A big goal of mine as a manager has been to try to learn a specific fact about each one of my staff¬—something about their family or where they’re from. If you create a bond, it makes the work environment that much more positive for everyone.
As a family-owned business, Woodlands is really not a corporate environment. I appreciate the fact that Woodlands management really cares about its employees—it feels like family to work here. The fact that we have so many long-term employees who have stayed with the company for so many years is testament to that. That family feeling is what Woodlands is all about, and it’s something that I truly stand for.