The Golub Corporation, parent company of Price Chopper Supermarkets, celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2012. The chain's roots date back to 1900, when Lewis (Leib) Golub arrived at Ellis Island from Russia and settled in Schenectady, New York. With 50 cents in his pocket and a desire for his own piece of the American Dream, Lewis opened a lunch room, dairy store and eventually a wholesale grocery warehouse in 1922. Shortly before his death in 1930, Golub Wholesale Foods merged with another wholesaler, so that Lewis' two sons, Bernard (Ben) and William (Bill), who had grown up in the business, would be part of a larger and stronger company.
Despite facing the financial woes that marked 'The Great Depression', Ben and Bill were full of fresh ideas and optimism. The brothers journeyed downstate to Long Island to see King Kullen's first retail supermarket and were enlightened by the prospect of buying in mass quantity, warehousing the merchandise and passing the savings along to the customer. Despite the unstable financial landscape and the risks inherent in launching a new venture, they convinced their partner, Joseph Grosberg, to open a large self-service supermarket in Green Island, New York - the first of its kind in Upstate New York.
As such, the 'Public Service Market' was more than a traditional grocery store, offering everything from groceries, fresh meat and produce, to dry goods, clothing and home appliances, all under the same roof. The idea was so successful that they opened two more stores shortly thereafter, one just around the corner from Central Park, which inspired the new chain's name - 'Central Markets'.
With no precedents or industry guidelines to influence the supermarket pioneers, Ben and Bill Golub met with other supermarket leaders in 1937 to forge a national association called the Supermarket Institute, which is known today as The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and draws thousands of international delegates to its annual convention.
After buying out Mr. Grosberg in 1943, Ben and Bill formed the Golub Corporation and began to set a course for the future. Passionate and determined to succeed while supporting the community around them, they continually brought innovative ideas to market (e.g. the 4H and "Grower Producer" programs that encouraged local farmers by offering to buy back the best of their crop; the Empire State Red Label program that established the egg industry in New York State; and the S&H Green Stamps program that rewarded customer loyalty with bonus stamps that could be exchanged for valuable household items), which helped them to grow Central Markets into a chain of 25 stores by the end of the 1950's.
Throughout the 1960's, Central Markets kept pace with the changing times and lifestyles of consumers. In 1972, with the involvement and influence of the next generation of Golubs who had grown up in the business (Ben's son, Lewis and Bill's son, Neil) the chain became one of the first in the nation to declare itself "Open 24 Hours a Day". That same year, in response to the struggling economy, the first "Price Chopper", an experimental store focused on the 'high quality, low price' concept was opened in Pittsfield, MA. Consumer reaction to the store was so positive that by the autumn of 1973, the entire Central Market chain was converted overnight to Price Chopper Supermarkets.
With Lewis (Chairman of the Board) and Neil (President & CEO) at the helm throughout the turn of the century, Price Chopper more than quadrupled in size, incorporating a "Best in Fresh" focus on superior quality meat, produce and seafood into the company's value-driven "More than a Store", 'one stop shopping' philosophies. This unprecedented growth was both organic and the result of several acquisitions made during the 1980's and 90's.
Driven by a desire to be forever relevant in the eyes of the consumer, innovation under Neil and Lewis' dedicated tenure encompassed everything from the development of corporate brands, the Price Chopper AdvantEdge (loyalty) card and the company website to the establishment of Super Centers, and in-house sampling program, scratch artisan bakeries, bagel factories, a kosher store, international cheese, sushi and floral offers, the proliferation of natural and organic products and award-winning informational campaigns like "We Know Meat", "Be Seafood Smart" and "Healthy U", which have all resonated deeply with consumers. They have also overseen the development and implementation of authentic NYC-style deli restaurants named in honor of Ben & Bill, self check-outs and in-store coupon-generating technology.
The company's sustainability efforts, which include the development of a revolutionary CO2 refrigeration system technology and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) - certified construction planning for a new main office building and the next generation of stores, have set the industry standard, earning Price Chopper Superior Portfolio-Wide Energy Performance and "Best of the Best" Green Chill award status from the EPA and the coveted designation as a "Northeast Business Leader for Energy Efficiency" by NEEP.
Today, the chain operates more than 130 stores in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire and is fueled by an extended family of more than 22,000 teammates who collectively own more than 47% of the company's privately held stock, making it one of the nation's largest privately held corporations that is predominantly employee-owned. With the fourth generation of Golubs - Lewis' sons, Jerel (President, Chief Executive Officer), David (Sr. VP Administration) and Christopher (Project Accountant) and Neil's daughter, Mona (VP Public Relations & Consumer & Marketing Services and the company spokesperson) - now fully engaged in the business, the thriving company continues to invest in its future through new locations, impactful product and service trends, customer engagement, health and wellness initiatives, environmental sustainability, progressive technology, digital marketing, e-commerce, social networking, and the succession and empowerment of its teammates. And, while the climate and go-to-market strategies continue to evolve, the foundation of progressive innovation, cooperative employee relations and heartfelt community involvement laid by Ben and Bill so many years ago, remains unshaken.