How We Started
In 1940, at the age of 15, Earl Redner started his career in the food business with the Grand Union Tea Company in Middletown, New York. His first job was potato bagger and stoker of the furnace. He spent the next 29 years working for Grand Union and during his time there, worked in various positions including assistant store manager, district sales manager, division grocery sales manager, and superintendent of stores in Washington, D.C. He still holds the Grand Union record for youngest manager, district store manager, and store superintendent.
In 1968, Earl began his quest for a new challenge. His wife, Mary, played a major role in his decision because of her faith in his ability and her contribution of the financial resources to start the business. Mary has a Master’s Degree in Education and taught school all the years of their marriage, except when their children were very young.
In March 1970, the couple combined Mary’s savings account and Earl’s Grand Union stock and pension money to buy two small supermarkets near Reading, Pennsylvania.
At first, the couple had no plans to add more stores, but after enjoying success from the very start, they decided to expand the company for two reasons. Firstly, when the couple’s adult sons, Richard and Gary, decided to make the food business their career, it was obvious that expansion was necessary to support three families and to create potential for personal growth. Secondly, the Redners are employee-oriented and wanted to provide more career opportunities for their employees.
Employee Stock Ownership Plan
In 1975, to share the success of the company with the employees, Redners formed an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Redners was the first supermarket in Pennsylvania to be employee owned. This without a doubt is the best and most valuable benefit people have. Every employee after a year of service and working more than 20 hours per week will be given company stocks. In 1975 these stocks were worth $5 a share and in just ten years were independently valued at a worth of $22 per share.
Also in 1975, the Redner Development Company was formed as a limited partnership with Earl, Richard and Gary as partners. The partnership purchased several reasonably priced pieces of real estate, making it possible to lease buildings at reasonable rentals to Redner’s Markets. One of these buildings is our Blandon, PA office/warehouse complex, which serves as the operations and distribution hub for all of our stores.
For the first nine years, Redner’s Markets Inc. operated its stores as IGA Food Stores franchises, until, on January 1, 1979, the company stepped out from beneath the IGA banner and began operating its stores under the name “Redner’s Markets.” The decision to change from IGA was actually made three years prior, but the transition was gradual to prevent confusion with customers. The move to independence freed the company from restrictions and fees incurred under the franchise arrangement.
Since the start, Redner’s Markets Inc. has experienced steady growth, as sales have continued to increase tremendously from what they were at the beginning of the first year.
Earl believed that the greatest asset of an independent operator is flexibility. Redner’s has taken great advantage of this fact and has moved quickly as changes have occurred in our industry. For example: the company was the first supermarket in Pennsylvania to have scanners, the first to have a recycling program, one of the first to have in store pharmacies, salad bars, and the Commonwealth’s first employee owned supermarket.
In March 1987 the company decided to take a bold step by changing its retailing philosophy. This resulted in our first Warehouse Market. The idea is simple:
- Get rid of the gimmicks and games
- Use discipline in buying and controlling costs
- Put these savings into the lowest retail price possible while still offering the quality, variety and service for which Redner’s has always been known.
The results were outstanding and by November 1987 all supermarkets had been converted to our Warehouse concept. From 1987 to 1990, in existing stores, business tripled and we enlarged every store to handle the increased volume.
Since Earl’s retirement in October 1990, Richard and Gary assumed management of the company. Richard currently serves as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors. During the tenure of Richard’s presidency, Redner’s has experienced its greatest period of growth. Within a period of 20 years at the helm, Richard was able to increase Redner’s market footprint to include over 39 stores, expand into new markets within Maryland and Delaware while continuing to remodel or expand existing stores.
The Next Generation
Success to any organization is a sustained commitment to the ideals and philosophies upon which the company was founded. Poised, as the next generation of leadership are Earl and Mary’s grandsons, Ryan and Gary M. Redner. Ryan Redner, who joined the company in 1999, currently serves as the chief operating officer and director of direct store delivery operations. Gary M. Redner joined the company in 2001 and serves as the executive vice president of procurement and director of wholesale operations. Both Ryan and Gary M. Redner also serve on the company board of directors.
Redner’s has been able to adapt to the changes within the every changing food market and find success as it enters new markets. As future changes occur in the supermarket industry and expansion continues into new markets, Redner’s will change direction accordingly. We remain committed to supporting the community in which each Warehouse Market and Quick Shoppe is located through a variety of supportive partnerships and enrichment programs. Redner’s continually strives to provide the lowest prices, freshest product and the outstanding service our customers have come to expect since 1970.