After 46 years as a successful grocer in Bemidji, Minnesota, the semi-retiring Lueken is transferring ownership of his three supermarkets to nearly 400 employees, despite lucrative offers to sell out to the big grocery store chains.
"My employees are largely responsible for any success I've had, and they deserve to get some of the benefits of that," Lueken said. "You can't always take. You also have to give back."
The family ownership of Lueken's Village Foods feels that turning over the business to the employees at no cost to them is better for the community.
"Employee-ownership at Lueken’s means increased opportunity for employee-owners, their families, and continued support of our community. When profits stay local, everyone wins."
70 year old Lueken credits his approach to life to a simple, straightforward, and once common lesson his parents taught him - "do the right thing".
At times just finding out what the right thing is can be a difficult undertaking. But with "do the right thing" as our guiding principle, eventually we will be led to game changing decisions both large and small.
May we all strive to be like Joe, and do the right thing rather than the political or profitable thing. Even when it is inconvenient.