The Journal-News spoke with Michael Needler Jr. earlier this week, and here are five things you should know about the supermarket chain’s presence in Butler County.
1) Being a family-owned business means an intense focus on customers
Michael Needler, the family’s third generation in the business, said the chain’s mission is to delight its customers with fresh food prices and quality, service levels unseen in other stores.
“This meat counter we have here in Middletown is possibly the best meat counter we have in the whole company,” Needler said. “The care and diligence that they put into this is absolutely off the charts.”
Needler said family-owned means an unshakable emphasis on accountability.
“Who are you going to call for a publicly trade company? Their public relations committee?” he said. “People call me, my phone number, and I have the obligation to care about my associates first and my customers alongside of them.”
FIRST REPORT: Marsh stores, including Middletown location, to get new name, look
2) The company worked for months to get the Middletown store in shape
Over the years, the former Marsh Supermarket had seen “very little maintenance” in terms of capital improvements, Needler said.
“Whether it was HVAC, sewers, lighting, floor care, condition of the cases, they were a little behind in the schedule of things the way that we like to keep our stores up,” he said.
Store conditions today are merely a “baseline” for future upgrades, he said.
“We haven’t even started on the full shopping experience. We’re going to continue to improve,” Needler said. “We didn’t have time to go in and gut the store and do a whole remodel capital plan.”
Upcoming changes will include decor, layout and fixtures, he said.
3) A new store means improved prices
Needler’s revamp of the Middletown store saw it redo product selection and pricing.
“When you look at some of the pricing, say Honey Crisp Apples at $1.99. I think before the community was paying something like $6.99 for that product,” Needler said. “We’ve dropped prices across the board in the store.”
Customer Dale Lindon, 78, of Middletown, noticed the price improvements “right off the bat” as well as increased product selection.
“(People) are going to be surprised,” Linden said. “It’s a lot better.”
MORE: Kroger to launch new clothing line in stores
4) Store changes go beyond the way the place looks
New technology rolled out by Needler’s includes front-end software that enables the store to better serve its customers to a new loyalty system that will reward customers, especially the store’s best shoppers, according to Needler.
The software also helps the store to prepare its future inventory based on the velocity of sales of previous inventory, he said.
“That creates efficiency in ordering, which allows us to keep our pricing down,” Needler said. “It also ensures we have the freshest product on the shelf.”
MORE: Kroger posts 3Q profit, results top Wall Street forecasts
5) Job retention’s not just in store, but from other areas
Needler said the chain has hired “about 105 percent of Marsh’s employees.”
“What I mean by that is we kept basically everybody on board other than normal attrition rates,” he said. “Most everybody you see in the store was here before we acquired the store, with the exception of some new faces that we were able to hire from Marsh stores that were closed. That’s where I get the (extra) 5 percent: We kept everybody and we added in from other stores as well.”
The store is focused on building a culture of positivity, appreciation and resilience for its employees, Needler said.