Tom James fits and manufactures custom high-quality suits by coming to its customers and providing excellent customer service.

By Stephanie Crets

Finding the perfect suit can be a daunting task with so many different types of fits, brands and stores to visit. And shopping in of itself can be an exhausting chore that takes too much time and effort. But Tom James wants to make it easier than ever by offering high-quality, made-to-measure suits. And the best part? “We come to you,” CEO Todd Browne says. “When we offer the best-quality product for your price range and service at a high level, a mutual respect develops.”

The 50-year-old company founded in 1966 wants to eliminate the part of the process where the customers feel like they’re fending for themselves in a retail store. “It’s a constantly revolving door with sales professionals in the retail environment, but 50 percent of our salesforce has been here for seven-plus years,” Browne says. “When you can develop a relationship with someone, someone you’re going to invest a lot of money in clothing with over the years, you can trust their guidance and perspective and focus on what you do best. We come to you, save you a lot of time and it’s a trusting relationship.”

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Hanky Panky’s intimate apparel is known as much for its comfort as for its fashionable designs.
By Chris Petersen

It’s said that a Hanky Panky thong is sold every 10 seconds, and for good reason. The New York City-based lingerie and sleepwear company’s unique thong panty design has been recognized far and wide as the most comfortable in the world, and that has helped solidify the company’s status as one of the leading designers and producers of women’s intimate apparel in the country. What’s even more incredible is that the company’s rise to success started with a simple gesture of friendship.

Co-founder Gale Epstein was working as a fashion designer in 1977 supplying unique designs to small boutiques while working for larger companies. While playing around with embroidered handkerchiefs, she got the idea to use them to create a handmade set of lingerie as a birthday gift for her friend, Lida Orzeck. “She loved it, and we realized that maybe other women would like something like that, too,” Epstein says.

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Shiekh Shoes is focused on knowing the minds of its target customers and putting the physical and virtual assets in place to reach them.

By Eric Slack

Based in Ontario, Calif., Shiekh Shoes has carved out a strong niche for itself as a footwear and apparel retailer. Founded by Shiekh Ellahi in 1991, the company now operates more than 130 stores throughout the West Coast and Southwest. Currently, Shiekh Shoes is working on ways to make the most of its brick-and-mortar and e-commerce footprint.

“The company has created a strong business by building ties to loyal consumers,” President Matt Fine says. “Now we are working on redefining the business and building the infrastructure to support future growth.”


Leveraging technology and providing support to franchisees help Great Clips provide hair care services across North America.

By Eric Slack

Headquartered in Minneapolis and approaching 4,000 locations across the United States and Canada, Great Clips is the world’s leading hair salon brand. The company’s growth has come about thanks to its ability to provide consumers with high-quality/low-cost hair care while providing a low-cost/high-growth opportunity to franchisees.

“Our franchising program is a strength that helped us to grow, and we’ve seen very consistent growth,” CEO Rhoda Olsen says. “We’ve averaged an addition of around 200 salons each year over the last 10 to 12 years. This year, we will reach our 47th consecutive quarter of same-salon sales increases after having hit our 43rd consecutive quarter of same-salon customer growth.”

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Paul Fredrick designs, manufactures and directly distributes every item in its collection, helping it grow its base of satisfied customers.

By Eric Slack

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2016, Paul Fredrick is a small company based in Fleetwood, Pa. Started as a shirt-only manufacturer and producing shirts for many of the country's preeminent men's retailers, the company has long since taken its products and their exceptional introductory prices directly to customers.

“Over the years, we have remained true to our original proposition while adding complementary product categories,” President Lyle Croft says. “We started with dress shirts, and these remain the base of our business today. We still offer what we feel is the best off-the-shelf dress shirt available in the men's arena for a very compelling price. As we have added new categories, we have worked very hard to take the guesswork of coordinating for our customers.”

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Smith Drug Co. is transitioning from wholesaler to a complete provider for independent pharmacists.
By Tim O’Connor

At prescription and over-the-counter drug wholesaler Smith Drug Co. the focus is on not only supplying its customers, but truly understanding how it can improve the pharmacy business. The company values people who have seen the industry from its buyers’ perspectives. Many on the leadership team, including President Jeff Foreman Rph, previously worked as pharmacists and former apothecaries lead many of the company’s initiatives. “I think it provides a unique advantage because we all have been where our customers are,” Foreman explains.

Smith Drug Co. wants to wield its leaders’ pharmacy backgrounds to provide consulting on the back end and help its customers move their businesses forward. “It’s not just about providing drugs at a good price but helping them create success in this new world we’re in now,” Foreman says. “If done right, independent [pharmacists] can absolutely win in the marketplace. Our goal is to give them the tools and guidance to make that happen.”


Family owned and managed HomeTown Pharmacy is growing its number of locations with a variety of services including specialty prescriptions.

By Russ Gager

In retailing as in wrestling, sometimes you have to get bigger to defend yourself. This was the case for Fred Grice Jr. and his brother Tim, who as small-town pharmacists enjoyed helping people they knew. “The reason that my dad and Uncle Tim formed HomeTown Pharmacy in 1996 was the realization that they didn’t believe they could compete in the future without building more critical mass, to have more buying power with vendors,” says Vice President Jim Grice, son and nephew of the founders. “Our growth has definitely been something we enjoy doing. We like growing our employee base and the communities we serve, but it’s just as much about survival to continue to be a viable player.”

HomeTown Pharmacy has 39 retail locations in Michigan and Indiana, as well as four long-term-care pharmacies, two durable medical equipment centers and four compounding labs. The company has been expanding mainly through acquisitions of existing pharmacies that are looking for those economies of scale or for a company that can relieve them of the healthcare industry’s ever-increasing administrative load.

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Brother’s Food Mart has won rave reviews for its famous fried chicken.

By Alan Dorich

People do not normally think of convenience stores as places where they can get top-quality cuisine, but Brother’s Food Mart has proved them wrong. In fact, CEO Imad "Eddie" Hamdan says the chain’s fried chicken has become a rite of passage for people when they come to New Orleans.

“If you go to Miami, and [you meet] somebody who has been to Louisiana, they’re going to know about Brother’s,” he says. “When people come to New Orleans, they’re going to try Brother’s chicken. It’s just something that you have to do.”

Based in Harvey, La., Brother’s Food Mart operates several locations in New Orleans and other cities in its home state. Hamdan notes that the company opened its first location in 1991 before moving three years later to a larger spot across the street that had been owned by its competition.

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