Ken’s SuperFair Foods and Food Fair stores are known as the “friendliest stores in town” for a reason. “We’re very highly service-oriented, and are very considerate, courteous and polite,” CEO Ken Fiedler says. “Either my son or I are on the floor all the time and maintain a lot of personal contact with customers. We try to know all our customers by name, and always greet and thank our customers and tell them we appreciate their business.”
Fiedler founded SuperFair Foods in 1972 in Aberdeen, S.D., with two partners. Since the mid-1990s, the six-location grocery store company has been owned by Fiedler’s family, which includes his son Kevin, the stores’ president and general manager.
The original Ken’s SuperFair in Aberdeen is the flagship and the largest of the family’s stores. The family also operates stores under the Ken’s Food Fair brand in Ipswich, Groton, Clark, Eureka and Britton, S.D. The Aberdeen, Ipswich and Groton locations include Shell Express gas stations.
Fiedler credits the personable environment of his stores for the company reaching its 40th anniversary this year. This welcoming atmosphere has gone a long way to help the business maintain strong sales despite competition from both big-box stores and national chains, he says.
In addition to their friendliness, Ken’s stores also have the advantage of full-service produce, meat and bakery departments offering quality perishables.
“Anyone can sell a can of beans, but people know to come here to get a great steak or good-looking hamburger,” Fiedler adds.
Ken’s stores also distinguish themselves with their pro shops, which sell hunting and fishing clothing and supplies including fishing rods, fishing line and bait. The stores also sell hunting and fishing licenses.
‘A Big Family’
The friendliness shown by the Fiedlers to their customers extends to their employees, whom Ken Fiedler describes as being “like a big family.”
“I think our employees love working for us, and we love having them work for us,” he adds. “Many of our employees have been here for a long time and are a very big part of our success – without them, it doesn’t work.”
Both Ken and Kevin Fiedler maintain an open-door policy with employees and treat them the way they want customers to be treated. “We show respect for our employees, and expect respect from them in return,” the elder Fiedler adds.
Fiedler extends his personable approach to his work with a number of community and industry organizations. This includes 12 years of service on a local church finance committee, the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, the United Way and local college and high school boards. He is also a past president of the South Dakota Retail Association and member of the National Retail Federation and National Grocers Association Board.
Investing in Efficiency
One recent investment will allow Ken’s stores to lower their operating costs in the long term while also helping the environment. The Ken’s SuperFair store in Aberdeen recently received an upgrade to its lighting and equipment that will save it close to $20,000 a year in energy costs while also qualifying it for federal tax incentives.
The upgrade replaced old fluorescent lights with high-efficiency lights in the main part of the store and LED lighting in the produce section. The stores also installed technology that regulates the compressors of its coolers and freezers. Future upgrades are anticipated for three other locations, Fiedler says.
All Ken’s SuperFair and Food Fair stores have been remodeled within the last two years. “We’re always in a continuous mode of replacing a cooler here or putting a new floor in there,” Fiedler says. “We’re always working to keep our stores looking fresh and modern.”
The remodeling efforts of the Ken’s Food Fair location in Britton were noted in September 2012, when the store was given a “Visionary Award” at the 78th annual Affiliated Foods Midwest fall food show in Omaha, Neb.
The award is given to Affiliated Foods Midwest retailers “who have made a significant new investment in their business in the areas of new stores, new store locations and major remodels,” according to the store.
The Britton store was expanded from 7,000 to 14,000 square feet and new deli and liquor departments were added. Other improvements included an expanded section of gluten free products and sections dedicated to concession candy items and Mexican food products.