The Business of the Supermarket
The sign says "14 items or fewer," but these baskets from Skokie, Illinois—based American Louver can carry enough to put you over the limit. (Technically, they can hold 125 pounds each.) CEO Geoffrey Glass's grandfather founded the 100-employee company, in 1954, to make plastic components for lighting fixtures. In the mid-1980s, it added shopping baskets to its lineup of plastic products. Now, the $25 million company produces roughly 400,000 baskets annually, for chains including Walgreens.
With more than 50,000 items in stock, this store needs a lot of shelves -- 2,300 linear feet, to be exact. All the shelving is made by Storflex Fixture Corporation in Corning, New York. Ralph Santell Sr. founded Storflex in 1992; he bought the assets of his former employer, a store-fixture company that had gone bankrupt. The $22 million company is run by his son, Ralph Santell Jr.
Hannaford has more than 27,000 employees in 167 stores, so it's tough to ensure that promotions, recalls, and product rollouts are handled consistently. To give marching orders to stores and monitor their progress at completing projects, Hannaford uses task-management software from Reflexis, based in Dedham, Massachusetts. Before Hannaford started using the software, in 2006, it took up to five days to pull a recalled product from every store. Now, it takes about three hours. Prashanth Palakurthi founded Reflexis in 2001; it has 350 employees.
These custom checkout stands from Royston, complete with conveyor belts, ergonomic workstations, and rotating bagging carousels, help Hannaford employees make quick work of long lines. Started in 1869 by Dutch immigrant A.W. Hopeman as a cabinetmaking business, Royston made telephone booths as well as ship interiors before focusing on retail-store equipment in 2000. Earl Seekins took the helm of the Jasper, Georgia—based company in 1994. It has 530 employees.