Adam Bazarnick: Produce director by day, concert promoter by night
by Tim Linden | June 16, 2009
So the headline is not exactly accurate. Adam Bazarnick is the produce director for the nine-store Nugget Market chain based in Woodland, CA, which was recently named by Forbes magazine as one of the top 10 retailers for which to work in the nation.
As far as concert promoter goes, Mr. Bazarnick said, "There really is no title for what I do. When the company puts on an event, I put together the light show, contact the bands and the sound guys, and put it together. I do what a tour manager does. "
More on that later.
Mr. Bazarnick grew up in Davis, CA, which is home to one of the top agriculture universities in the country (University of California-Davis) and is in the midst of California farm country with almonds orchards and cotton, rice and tomato fields within a stone's throw of his childhood haunts. But despite his environs, he grew up with no agricultural background nor a plan to follow such a career path.
"I came from a musical family," he said. "It is in my genes. My parents are into music, and my uncle is a master violinist with the Chicago Symphony." That is where Mr. Bazarnick thought he'd have a career.
But in high school, he was looking for a job in the bike-oriented college town of Davis to earn some money to buy a car. "There was a Nugget Market in my neighborhood that I could ride my bike to, so it was perfect."
He began bagging groceries in the early 1990s at the tender age of 16. "I started as a courtesy clerk, but it was small, family-owned market, so you did whatever you had to. I stocked shelves, would throw some freight, whatever they wanted me to do."
He graduated from high school and also moved up the "corporate ladder" at Nugget, finding himself helping out in the produce department at age 18. For the next three years, he went to American River College in the Sacramento area studying audio engineering and music production, laying the groundwork for his intended career.
As for Nugget, it was a "great job, with great people, flexible hours and good pay," he said. "It paid for my college. I was working full time in the produce department, typically starting at midnight setting the wet rack all night, and then I'd go to school during the day."
But, at age 22, he became a produce manager and started to take stock in his future. He saw that chances of advancement at Nugget were very good. It was a small company that was growth-oriented. And he knew that being in the music business was never going to be an easy way to make a living.
"When you are a musician, you are always a musician, but I was at a point where I realized I was more fulfilled at Nugget," he said. "And I thought for me there was more opportunity in the store than in the music business."
With college behind him, he was able to devote more time to Nugget and continue his career as a produce manager. A couple of years later, he was given an opportunity to work with the chain's store development team on the building of a new store in the Sacramento area.
"I was asked to help design the produce department and then stay on and run it," Mr. Bazarnick said. "That store opened in 2000, and I managed the produce department for three years."
In 2003, he joined the firm's store development team as the produce specialist and oversaw the demolition of one of the chain's properties and the recreation of it as one of Nugget's top stores. He then managed the produce department for a short time before it was turned over to someone else.
"At that time, we didn't have the positions we have today," Mr. Bazarnick said. "You called yourself whatever you wanted. I then met with our current vice president (who didn't have that title then), and we laid out the plans for the coming years. I told him what I'd like to do. I wrote my own future."
Today, Mr. Bazarnick is the chain's produce director in charge of nine produce departments. "We do not have a typical store; we have nine unique stores and nine different produce sets."
Designing a produce department is his particular interest. The company has lots of competition - and imitators - so Mr. Bazarnick said that it is constantly updating its produce merchandising efforts. He clearly believes that building a produce department from the ground up is one of his strengths.
"I didn't go to school to be a produce director, but I've acquired knowledge by watching and learning and responding to what people are looking for," he said. "You don't have to be schooled in how to do it -- you just have to know what you want and make it happen."
In fact, he is proud that the development team at Nugget is simply known by its nickname, "the get-it-done team." That is a moniker the team earned while he was a member, and it is how he approaches his job -- as well as his hobby.
So back to the concert promoter hat that Mr. Bazarnick occasionally wears. As mentioned, Nugget Market was ranked as one of the top 10 places for people to work, and a 15-minute conversation with the current produce director makes that ranking understandable.
"Our company is very good at utilizing the talent within the company," Mr. Bazarnick said. "If someone has video experience, we use them to shoot our videos. If someone is creative, we will use them to create our banners."
And so it is with Mr. Bazarnick. He is musical and has an audio engineering background, and he has put on two major shows for Nugget as employee- appreciation events. Both shows cost in excess of $100,000 each and were basically concerts. Mr. Bazarnick managed the production from the hiring of sound people to the construction of the stage to the coddling of the bands. He also served as the DJ.
"We had light shows that were better than many concerts I have gone to," he said.
The events are catered and held at night over a long period of time so every employee has the opportunity to attend.
"We call them 'raves,'" he said. "There are lasers and fog and catered food. It is a pretty big production."
Although he plays the guitar and the drums and is often laying down tracks in his home studio, Mr. Bazarnick, who is single, has no need to expand his music abilities beyond the hobby stage with the occasional production of a rave for Nugget.
"When you work 50 hours a week, you don't have a lot of extra time," he said. "I'm pretty excited that I get the opportunity to put on these shows for Nugget. And I am also very excited about my job. It may not sound as glamorous as being in the music business -- and it is hard work -- but I love what I do."