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FIU Business alumnus Javier Herran (MSMIS ’02) is driving an initiative that’s coming to the aid of employees at two of Miami’s iconic names in the food businesses: Sedano’s Supermarkets and Versailles.

Sedano’s Supermarkets will offer temporary jobs to up to 400 employees of Versailles, La Carreta, Casa Juancho and the company’s 11 other restaurants who were let go when restaurants in Miami-Dade County were ordered to close their dining rooms due to the impact of COVID-19. Currently, the restaurants are allowed to offer only takeout meals with curbside pick- up.

Yet as restaurant workers were hard hit with massive layoffs, grocery stores, swamped by customers looking for cleaning supplies, food and paper goods, scrambled to hire more employees. That’s why the Sedano’s-Versailles partnership works so well.

“It’s the reality of our needs right now,” said Herran, chief innovation and marketing officer at Sedano’s, noting that the company needs more employees to deliver goods, stock shelves, serve as cashiers and other positions. “We have to keep up with the demand.”

“It’s a stressful time for everyone, and I’m glad we were able to give the Valls family and their employees a sense of peace,” said Herran, who credits FIU Business with contributing to his community networking skills. “This is a time for communities to help each other out.”

His FIU Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MSMIS) coursework reinforced Herran’s focus on project collaboration and the importance of “watching each other’s back.”

One of Herran’s signature projects at Sedano’s utilizes the background in information technology he gained at FIU. Herran helped establish a robotic fulfillment center that packs groceries for customers ordering online or by phone.

Developed in partnership with Takeoff Technologies, the system uses artificial intelligence-enabled robots to pick items off the shelf. Automated boxes running on conveyor belts deliver items to a packing station where an overhead screen indicates to employees how the order should be packed. Finished orders are taken to a curbside pick-up area and delivered to the designated Sedano’s store. The system is already in place at 15 Sedano’s stores in Miami-Dade County.