If you ever find yourself shopping at one of the Port St. Lucie, Florida Publix locations, you’d be lucky to see AJ – or “Mr. Publix,” as he is often referred to by the Martin County, Florida office of Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU). Why Mr. Publix? AJ can often be seen going above and beyond while helping the store’s customers, both old and young. He is sure to give each child in his lane a special treat from Publix and will always hold the car doors for older people when they have finished their grocery shopping.  Everyone agrees that AJ’s high energy, winning smile, and very likeable demeanor make him an incredibly popular and successful employee.

AJ began employment services with WOU and Independence Works (IW) in November of 2019. WOU and IW provide comprehensive services to individuals with barriers to employment, helping their clients find and maintain meaningful careers. AJ’s team, including Director Lisa Jaloski, knew his desire to work in the customer service field would make Publix a great fit for AJ. Publix is an important partner for WOU and IW in Florida because it recognizes the value their clients bring to its workforce; many clients have been successfully placed in the Florida counties that WOU and IW serve. With his team’s support, AJ was hired in February of 2020 as a Front Service Clerk.

Ever since, his customer service skills have dazzled management and customers alike. His Career Resource Specialist (CRS) Brittney Coley says, “AJ is such a hard worker and does his job with such a positive attitude. Every time I come to visit AJ, I see him helping customers, interacting with them, laughing with them, opening car doors for them. He is truly a model employee. AJ is valued by his managers and sought out by customers. His positivity is infectious and his work ethic is inspiring.”

In fact, in recognition of all he does every day, AJ received Employee of the Month in April. His Publix manager, Jennifer says “AJ is such a delight to work with!! All the customers always seek out AJ to help them take their groceries to their car. He has such an amazing personality; his smile brightens up the room! He’s awesome.”

Even WOU’s COO, Ryan Mountain, has stopped in to meet the famous Mr. Publix. Ryan says, “AJ’s customer service skills are quite impressive, and his manager said that he is the perfect Publix employee. There are actually some customers who shop on the days he works and are disappointed when he is not there.”

AJ enjoys working at Publix so much that he looks forward to expanding his responsibilities whenever possible. This summer, AJ’s manager plans to train him on working the cash register next. His CRS Brittney continues to provide onsite support for AJ as he learns new roles within the store. Brittney also assists AJ with computer-based training that Publix requires on a periodic basis. With AJ’s passion to help others and desire to be the best Publix employee he can be, there’s no doubt he will continue to be successful!