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Jodie Daubert: From Ahold to AAA

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Jodie Daubert
Jodie Daubert - (Photo / )

Like many teens looking for work, Jodie Daubert's high school job started in a grocery store.

She wanted to be a cashier at Giant Food Stores, but her soon-to-be boss at the time told her there were no open positions for cashiers. There was, however, an opening in the bakery.

So Daubert donned an apron and got to work. For the next five years, she served up sweet baked goodies to thousands of customers. The part-time gig carried her through the rest of high school and then college. Some of Daubert's customers were just like family.

Giant’s parent company, Ahold USA in Cumberland County, wanted her to stay on after she graduated from Shippensburg University. She moved to the corporate office and said goodbye to the bakery. For the next 25 years Daubert stayed with Ahold, moving up through various positions. Her most recent position was the head of merchandising for Ahold's Fresh Formats division. 

“I think about every role that I held at Ahold has taught me something about leadership, about business, about customer service,” she said. ”When you care about your customers and you care about what you are doing. It matters.”

On Valentine’s Day, Daubert officially entered the next phase of her career.

She left Ahold to become the president and CEO of AAA Central Penn in Dauphin County. She is the first woman to take that role since the local automotive club was founded in 1907.

With 290 employees locally, AAA operates 11 offices in nine counties and serves more than 325,000 members (58 million nationwide). Daubert succeeds David Meckley, who served as interim CEO. 

Her path to AAA started after current changes at Ahold didn’t fit into Daubert’s future goals.

“Ahold is going through some major reorganization and they are decentralizing their operations,” she said. “After 30 years I was not interested in relocating to another area. My roots are here in Central Pennsylvania. It was the right time for them and for me to figure out what my next chapter will be.”

Here's a quick Q and A about Daubert's next steps.

Why AAA?

Daubert: I’ve been a member for 30 years. I’ve trusted my family’s safety and security for 30 years. I have a lot of great memories of trips and the great customer service that I received from AAA. They are a solid organization with a great reputation. They know who they are and they know why they exist and what’s important to them. The next phase to this is where do they want to go in the future and how do we get there?

Where do you see AAA going?

Daubert: They exist for their members. Everything they judge themselves on is how they serve their member’s needs. But the world is changing and their members are changing and their members needs are changing. So, it’s up to us as an organization to figure out how we can change to continue to suit and meet their needs.

What do you think people would be most surprised about for AAA?

Daubert: There is a wealth of services that they now offer. They offer insurance. Car insurance, health insurance -- all types of insurance. Financial services. There is an opportunity to increase awareness of the other services that they do provide. Increase awareness of all of the discounts. It’s all about adding value to the membership. There are certainly differences between selling groceries to promoting services, the approach is very much the same. It’s all about understanding your customer.

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Cathy Hirko

Cathy Hirko

Cathy Hirko is managing editor, news, for the Central Penn Business Journal. Email her at chirko@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @CathyHirko.

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