Founded in 1920, Mason Brothers is a family owned, full-line wholesale grocery distributor. Today, the company is a supplier of goods and services to stores in six states, having built a strong reputation based on customer service and satisfaction. 

“Our marketshare continues to grow,” co-owner Ric Harrison says. “We have expanded to serve a base of more than 400 stores within an eight-hour drive of our headquarters.”

Customer Centered

Mason Brothers is committed to helping its customers succeed. Working with independent retailers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, Mason Brothers offers an extensive product line of more than 20,900 SKUs at competitive pricing, with cross-docking capabilities of another 20,000. 

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Before the Internet, multichannel retailing was something known to only a handful of major national retailers, and the channels were limited to primarily brick and mortar and catalog sales. Today, however, consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to how they interact with their favorite retailers. The prevalence of m-commerce and e-commerce purchasing has become commonplace right along with stopping in at their favorite stores.  This new consumer landscape has created some significant challenges, as well as generated numerous new opportunities for retailers.

 The new basis for retail interaction with today’s consumers spans all channels for the retailer including, brick-and-mortar stores, catalog sales, a website or even through their smartphones. A retailer is now challenged with providing the same user experience across all channels to provide a seamless experience regardless of where the consumer maybe engaged. At the same time, as more retailers court international customers through their online presence, they are exposed to added complexity in terms of international tax structures and fulfillment. Navigating this complexity alone, especially in today’s omni-connected world can be daunting to say the least. Having a partner in the game like leading global provider of retail management software, Retail Pro International (RPI), can make the task much more palpable.

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After 175 years of operation, Candle-lite Company stands as the oldest continually operating candle company in the United States, CEO Calvin Johnston says. “Consumers see a lot of credibility and authenticity in our unique American heritage,” he states.  

Cincinnati-based Candle-lite Company manufactures everyday, seasonal, collectable and premium candles under the Candle-Lite Company, Essential Elements, Revere House and new Royale Classics brands. The company enjoys over a 30 percent market share in the food and drug channels for the home décor and fragrance category as reported by IRI.

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Where Liberty Petroleum Distributors sees a need, it fills it. Since 1988 when it opened its first travel plaza, the company has continued to hone its skill in matching the right developments with the right locations. It started with one location in Tunkhannock, Pa., and now operates 23 locations across the state, with another on its way. Liberty caters to the motoring public traveling through Northeast Pennsylvania with travel plazas, convenience stores, tobacco stores and restaurants, such as Subway, Burger King and Tim Hortons. 

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Some supermarkets limit the number of products that they sell, but not Schuette’s Market, owner and President Michael Schuette says. If customers cannot find an item in its stores, they just ask, and the company will order it and add it to its shelves. 

For instance, when a Hispanic family asked for Goya foods, “We got them all,” Schuette recalls, noting that the store benefited from it. “Our Hispanic business just rocketed. We are beholden to our customers.” 

Based in St. Rose, Ill., Schuette’s operates grocery stores that specialize in selling locally sourced items. Michael Schuette’s great-grandfather, Peter Schuette, started the company in 1863, after emigrating from Germany to the United States.

At the time, the country was still divided by the Civil War, and people were bartering for goods, Michael Schuette explains. “If you had eggs and you wanted a hatchet, you had to find somebody who had a hatchet who was willing to part with it for eggs,” he says.

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Founded in 1994, high-fashion retailer Rudsak is currently expanding, opening more stores even as its online presence strengthens. 

The company operates 19 retail boutiques in Quebec and Ontario. In the next two years, it plans to open another 20 stores in Canada and to increase its retail stores presence in New York City, Chicago and Boston over the next couple of years, CEO Bruno Peloquin says. There would be flagship store in each city including retail space, a showroom and an onsite cafe just like its flagship on the chic St.-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, which opened in 1998.

Even as the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, founder Evik Asatoorian still works with his designers. “He is as passionate about the company today as he was when he started the company 20 years ago,” Peloquin says. Rudsak plans major events including the Toronto Fashion Show appearance to launch its 20th anniversary. A series of events, celebrations, products specific and celebrities are all part of the celebration.

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Bodum has never been afraid of change. In fact, the kitchenware company has spent the past 70 years changing to meet the needs of new customers and demands. Rather than fearing change, Bodum is a company that thrives on it. 

“Being the first to come out with new things is definitely something we do here a lot,” says Thomas Perez, CEO of Bodum’s North American division. “When you started to see all the different colors come into the housewares market after the 2008 crash, we were the first to do that. Everything was stainless steel and black, but we changed that. We’re good at taking risks, and we do what we like to do instead of doing what everyone else is doing. It doesn’t mean everything is successful, but we try new things and are first to market with a lot of new things.”

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‘Soy Totalmente Palacio” – I am totally Palacio. It’s the slogan that was launched by El Palacio de Hierro’s leader, Don Alberto Baillères in 1996, and it still holds true today. Rarely does a retailer keep the same slogan for 18 years, but these words embody the essence and culture of the 125-year old upscale department store so perfectly that no truer words could capture its spirit. “Soy Totalmente Palacio” has resonated to the point of becoming part of the Mexican vernacular. 

Last year, Women’s Wear Daily published an extensive spread on the 125-year anniversary of this iconic retailer. Baillères, known to be a supremely private individual, gave a rare interview to the magazine. He was asked how he came up with the store’s famous slogan. This is what he answered: 

“I used to have long brainstorming sessions on marketing and advertising with our advisors and senior executives,” he told the publication. “One day, I was trying to express my vision on the main message for our advertising campaign. I was saying concurrent but disconnected phrases, like ‘El Palacio de Hierro is an inspired vision consumers share,’ ‘an unforgettable experience consumers love,’ ‘an intimate feeling consumers get,’ ‘an aspiration,’ ‘a real dream,’ on how well they look, how well they live and how well they feel; how deeply the consumer and Palacio are identified with each other. Then, ‘Palacio is its customers,’ ‘Consumers are Palacio de Hierro,’ ‘I am Palacio’… ‘I am totally Palacio’… Eureka! ‘Soy Totalmente Palacio.’” 

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