Beacon & Bridge Market: Small-Town Success and Navigating Industry Changes in Michigan

Focused in east and central Michigan, the company grew its footprint with acquisitions and new builds. “We are always looking for opportunities to expand,” Carpentier says.

The company thrives in smaller markets where it captures a large marketshare with minimal competition. Customer loyalty is high in these places.

“We don’t focus on places like Detroit or Flint or Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids or Lansing,” Carpentier explains. “We are in the small towns where there are not as many competitive layers.”

Beacon & Bridge is committed to serving local Michigan communities with the highest-quality service and best locally produced products available. The company is committed to the communities and customers it serves. Being a small locally owned firm allows Beacon & Bridge to act quickly and do the right thing, the company says.

New Concepts

As part of a new emphasis on foodservice, Beacon & Bridge Market currently operates two restaurants, partnering with Alexandria, La.-based Krispy Krunchy Chicken, which specializes in working with C-stores to increase profits. “We are very excited about chicken,” Carpentier says. “We are also developing our pizza and sandwich programs.”

The company is also adding more fresh and healthy options such as fruits, vegetables, yogurts and fresh food cups. “We want to find different ways to add fresh and healthy options into our stores,” Carpentier says.

Tobacco and gasoline sales generate as much as 75 percent of Beacon & Bridge revenues. Yet, increased fuel efficiency and reduced smoking levels have resulted in less revenue from these sources. That is why the company is now so focused on foodservice.

Another challenge for the company and its industry is increasing regulations. For example, Beacon & Bridge must comply with new credit card regulations and upgrade credit card reader security by 2017, which will cost the company an estimated $750,000. It already upgraded in 2010 to the tune of $500,000.

Great People

How has Beacon & Bridge Market overcome its industry’s challenges and become so successful? “Everything in our business starts with good people,” Carpentier says. Beacon & Bridge’s two district managers each serve half the stores, focusing on hiring, training and retaining good people. “People are your best asset,” Carpentier says. “When you have good people, you ensure quality.”

In addition to benefitting from the hard work of its outstanding professionals, Beacon & Bridge Market also invests in itself for success. It is currently in the midst of a five-year program to provide all-new gas dispensers at all locations.

It is also researching new locations. “We are exploring opportunities for a couple potential rebuilds and actively looking for acquisitions at the same time as we are trying to grow same-store sales,” Carpentier says.

Smiling Customers

Another reason for the company’s success, according to Carpentier, is the leadership of Eastman. “In my opinion, the reason for the success of Beacon & Bridge is the ownership and leadership of Bob Eastman,” he says. “He is the type of owner everyone wants to work for.”

The company tagline is “everyone leaves with a smile,” and Carpentier explains that “a lot goes into every little detail to ensure that every customer is happy with each visit. It permeates our entire staff and business.”