Foodarama is affectionately known in Houston as the go-to friendly neighborhood market, having served the community for more than 40 years. Although local customers who grew up shopping there with their parents or remember it opening for the first time might feel nostalgia for the grocery stores, Foodarama is changing with the times to better serve its customers.

“We are excited about the changes we are making and moving forward in 2015,” says Kim Alepa, CEO and daughter of founder Carrol Cox. “Our biggest challenges are not only the presence of competition, but also the always-changing trends of the grocery business. Customer shopping habits and patterns are very crucial to how we market our items.”

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Located in New Orleans, Dorignac’s Food Center has carved out a niche for itself as a full-service grocery store that knows how to get what its customers want. Founded in 1947, the company has built its reputation by stocking hard-to-find items and making sure that consumers know that Dorignac’s can be counted on to take care of their needs. 

“We deliver service consistently and get to know our customers on a personal basis,” President Ronnie Dawson says. “Our store is a place in the community where our customers can get together and meet to catch up on what is going on in each other’s lives and other social happenings.”

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An independent specialty pharmacy, Diplomat Pharmacy Inc. has become the largest organization of its kind in the country. The company’s roots date to the early 1970s, and it has grown to provide personalized medication therapies to people with specialized needs.

“Our growth accelerated in 2005 when we launched our national distribution center,” CEO and Chairman Phil Hagerman says. “Everything we do is focused on patients in need.” 

Today, Diplomat is headquartered in Flint, Mich. In addition to its national headquarters, the company has walk-in retail pharmacies in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Flint, Mich. and Brookhaven, Pa. Additionally, it operates 13 support sites in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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Church & Dwight products are all over your house, but you might not know it. Open your pantry and you’ll likely find Arm & Hammer baking soda. Did you get a stain on your shirt? Go to your laundry room and get out the OxiClean. Have a toothache? Open your medicine cabinet and grab your Orajel.

With 97 percent brand awareness and 75 percent household penetration, Church & Dwight has an extensive portfolio of brands that many consumers encounter on a daily basis, whether in their own homes or in retail stores.

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The CDMA is much more than just a buying co-op. “We really pride ourselves on being the connection point between the vendor and retail communities,” says John Devine, vice president of the Novi, Mich.-based organization. “We look out for needs of both communities, and make the relationship between the two profitable and successful for both parties.”

Founded in 1926 to support the marketing and merchandising efforts of its members, the CDMA today helps more than 100 independent and regional chains in all aspects of their retail operations, particularly when it comes to stocking their shelves. The association also represents wholesalers as well as manufacturers. The association serves more than 3,000 retail stores in total.

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Bon-Ton Stores CEO Kathryn Bufano has been in love with department stores for practically her entire life. She says some of her happiest childhood memories came from the shopping trips she took with her mother to the Carson’s department store in Chicago, and the dizzying array of clothing on the racks there sparked her interest in the world of fashion retailing. “The bonding experience of shopping with my mother was one of the most exciting times,” Bufano says. 

That abiding enthusiasm for fashion and department stores carried over to her college years, and at that time her shopping trips with her mother became more like fact-finding missions. She says she asked as many questions as she could about how department stores like Carson’s were merchandized and how the store’s buyers brought the latest fashions to its customers. As soon as she realized she could make department stores her career, Bufano says, everything clicked. “That was the spark that connected my love of shopping to the business world,” she says. 

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Vitamin World has come a long way since it began in 1976 with a single location. From a small kiosk in Williamsville, N.Y., the company has expanded into malls to create the footprint that it has today thanks to becoming part of NBTY, an American manufacturer of vitamins and nutritional supplements.

“As part of a $3 billion enterprise, our organization garners a wide variety of benefits,” President Jack Krause says. “World-class manufacturing and sourcing functions enable us to create great-quality products at a reasonable price. We have the ability to share ideas and consumer insights with leaders across the business. This scale also gives us an extended talent pool and capabilities in corporate shared functions such as IT, HR and business management.”

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The late-2000s were a difficult time for high-end kitchen equipment maker Viking Range Corporation. Like many luxury goods manufacturers, the Greenwood, Miss.-based company was affected as consumers scaled back purchasing during the recession. Further, Viking struggled as its list of products grew beyond what was manageable, though its brand value remained high. 

But since being bought out by The Middleby Corporation at the end of 2012, CEO Selim Bassoul has helped the company regain its focus and improve sales and profits. “We’re growing now instead of shrinking,” says Brent Bailey, vice president of brand management.

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