BOONE, Iowa - Low prices and good customer service have kept Fareway Stores here in business since 1938, and the new president plans to stick to that philosophy.
Fareway has "a very simple model that hasn't changed much since 1938," said Fred Greiner, president and chief operating officer of the 90-store, family-owned chain. "We have our niche."
Greiner, formerly the executive vice president and chief operating officer, was named president earlier this year, succeeding Robert Cramer, who has retired.
He is the first non-family member to become president. "They've always treated me like family," he said. "It may have been a big step for them, but they know who I am and how I would carry out the company."
Greiner said Fareway has lost many of its competitors over the years as supercenters have put them out of business. Eighty percent of its stores - averaging 25,000 square feet and serving markets in Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska - compete with supercenters.
Greiner believes that the stores' low prices and customer service, which includes carrying groceries to the cars of every customer, is what has helped the company stay in business. Fareway stores also have full-service meat departments that cut all meat to order, and "very few [competitors] have that," Greiner said. None of Fareway's stores offer special services like video rental or dry cleaning; the company sticks to groceries and meat only, and its customers seem to prefer it that way, he said.
The new president doesn't have any major changes planned for the company, just to "continue our growth in the past of adding a few stores every year," he said. A new 287,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse facility has just been completed, and "that will allow us to grow in the future," he said.
Family values have always been an important part of the family-owned company, and all Fareway stores are closed on Sundays so that employees can have a day to spend with their families. As a result, the retailer has many longtime employees, including Greiner.
Greiner, who started working at Fareway when he was 16 years old, has spent his entire career with the retailer, except for a few years when he served in the U.S. Army.