Vitamin World has come a long way since it began in 1976 with a single location. From a small kiosk in Williamsville, N.Y., the company has expanded into malls to create the footprint that it has today thanks to becoming part of NBTY, an American manufacturer of vitamins and nutritional supplements.
“As part of a $3 billion enterprise, our organization garners a wide variety of benefits,” President Jack Krause says. “World-class manufacturing and sourcing functions enable us to create great-quality products at a reasonable price. We have the ability to share ideas and consumer insights with leaders across the business. This scale also gives us an extended talent pool and capabilities in corporate shared functions such as IT, HR and business management.”
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The late-2000s were a difficult time for high-end kitchen equipment maker Viking Range Corporation. Like many luxury goods manufacturers, the Greenwood, Miss.-based company was affected as consumers scaled back purchasing during the recession. Further, Viking struggled as its list of products grew beyond what was manageable, though its brand value remained high.
But since being bought out by The Middleby Corporation at the end of 2012, CEO Selim Bassoul has helped the company regain its focus and improve sales and profits. “We’re growing now instead of shrinking,” says Brent Bailey, vice president of brand management.
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Based in Atlanta, Sionic Mobile is a mobile commerce company that aims to revolutionize m-commerce by creating loyalty and value for merchants of all sizes, as well as for consumers. By using mobile devices and the cloud, Sionic Mobile is able to connect merchants with nearby, ready-to-spend consumers.
“Sionic Mobile spun out of a decade-old company in mid-2010,” Founder and CEO Ronald Herman says. “We currently have 28 full-time employees and contractors. What we are known for are customer loyalty and mobile ads.”
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Headquartered in Dublin, Calif., Ross Stores, Inc. has been able to grow and flourish into a high-performing S&P 500, Fortune 500 and Nasdaq 100 company. Today, it operates Ross Dress for Less, the largest off-price apparel and home fashion chain in the country, which has more than 1,200 locations in 33 states. The company also operates dd’s DISCOUNTS, a moderate off-price chain with more than 150 locations in 15 states.
“The biggest reason for our success is our ability to attract and retain talented and experienced people across all areas of our business who are able to successfully execute the company’s core strategy on a consistent basis,” President and Chief Development Officer Jim Fassio says.
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Wilton Burgess started his career in the grocery business as clerk, and worked his way up the ladder over the course of a 20-year career with the same store. In 1973, however, Burgess made the decision to strike out on his own and start his own operation. Today, the fruit of his labors is Quik-E Food Stores, which is one of Virginia’s most successful convenience store chains that also includes car washes and a laundromat.
Quik-E Food Stores is a family affair, with Burgess’ three sons holding executive-level positions within the company. Over the years, the company has become known as a positive influence in the community, having raised more than $1 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in addition to other charitable efforts. Burgess says he is proud of where the company is today and sees great things for Quik-E Food Stores in the future.
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No matter what size a town is, it probably has a number of schools with teams in various sports. Serving those teams’ needs for sporting goods and those of consumers in general ahead of major national sporting goods retail chains is Olympia Sports. Store managers provide a team discount program for athletic equipment three times annually to local teams. The company’s business model has been so successful that it has been thriving for 40 years.
“Certainly, good customer service has been a pillar of our business,” Senior Director of Operations Paul Fitzpatrick says. “We’ve always tried to be a really convenient option for families to get their sporting goods, athletic apparel and footwear needs met. We are putting stores where it’s easy for people to get to and where otherwise they would have to travel to some of the bigger shopping areas.”
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When parents buy products for their babies, they expect quality, value and solutions that make the job of being a parent just a little bit easier. Munchkin’s CEO Steve Dunn, a father of two himself, has made that a mandate of Munchkin Inc. The company manufactures hundreds of products, including bottles, sippy cups and safety gates.
Dunn started Munchkin in 1992, after working in Venture capital. After his first child was born, he recalls thinking, “I was getting tired of reading other people’s business plans. When I started looking at some of the products we were buying for our daughter, I saw the opportunity to be creative and bring some much-needed freshness and innovation to several categories.”
When Dunn formed the company, “We started off with an 18,000-square-foot office and warehouse,” he recalls, noting that the company had sales of more than $15 million in 1993, with a line of licensed baby bottles shaped like soda bottles with the Pepsi®, Dr Pepper® and 7-Up® logos.
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Comfort is perhaps the single most important factor people consider when buying a piece of furniture. If a chair, sofa or bed isn’t comfortable, odds are the shopper will move on to something else. That same principle applies to furniture retailers, as well, as shoppers want to look for their new furniture in an environment that treats them fairly and makes them feel comfortable throughout the entire process. This is why Mooradians Furniture has thrived for multiple generations in the Albany, N.Y., area, according to partner and owner Bill Mooradian.
The company roots begin with Mooradian’s grandfather, an Armenian immigrant who opened an appliance store next to his meat market after the Great Depression took hold. Mooradian says one of the company’s earliest successes was with coin-operated refrigerators, with the company collecting the coins from customers’ homes on a regular basis. Over time, the company moved from household appliances to furniture, and soon the Mooradian name became associated with high-quality furniture.
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