More than two decades of experience and a focus on 100% customer satisfaction keeps this mattress company ahead of the game. One of the difficult truths we learn as we transition into adulthood is that in life, there are no guarantees. That is, until now. 

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This Pennsylvania retailer was advised not to make renovations during hard times but did so anyway, in hopes a sleeker store would bring in more customers. When the owners of John Reyer Company, Inc. decided to revamp large sections of the selling floor at their Sharon, Pa. shoe store this past year, people told them they were crazy. It didn’t matter, they said, that the store has been around since 1886, that it carries the world’s largest selection of hard-to-find sizes, or that its 36,000-square-foot selling floor could well be a tourist attraction for its sheer size.

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This young fuel retailer is racing toward the future of the industry, and with a smart rebranding campaign, it’s well on its way to be the first one there. After just 13 years, the privately held fuel retailer and c-store chain Road Ranger is fast approaching $1 billion in sales, hasn’t lost nearly as many gallon sales as its competitors in the Midwest during the recession, and is enjoying three times the industry average in same-store gallons sold.

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With a year under its belt, this rolling stool manufacturer is looking to broaden its customer base. "Our main goal is to sell the idea that not only can you eliminate some of your workers’ compensation claims, you can also be more efficient using our stool,” said Bryan Whitely, sales manager for Tryke Products. Whitely’s goal might be a little unusual, especially considering the company’s history in the automotive industry, but it’s not out of line.

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A clean atmosphere, well-trained staff, and supportive management team keep this c-store chain going strong. With a small footprint and a vision of excellence based on customer service and cleanliness, Houssein Ejtemai and Julio Cornejo founded PMG/E&C Enterprises in 1991. By 2004, they had 15 stores, and then it all changed. That year, Ejtemai, president, and Cornejo, vice president, saw the company’s growth skyrocket. Six years later, there are a total of 320 locations under the E&C umbrella.

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This specialty outdoor sporting goods retailer understands that to keep its customers happy, it must live the lifestyle it’s selling. Hudson Trail Outfitters is in a class of its own as the oldest privately held retailer in the Washington, DC Metro area. The trick to staying alive in one of the strongest retail hubs in the country, said General Manager Sandy Cohan, has been to not use tricks when dealing with the company’s target audience of specialty outdoor sporting goods consumers. It is also important to make sure your offering is relevant to your customers and that you offer them nothing but positively outrageous customer service.

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This office supply leader is paving the way to a holistic approach to environmental sustainability. From selling green products to building LEED-certified stores, being environmentally conscious is more than just a convenient marketing tool for office supply giant Office Depot. “We developed our environmental strategy back in 2002, and we hired our first environmental director in 2003,” said Yalmaz Siddiqui, director of environmental strategy for the company. “We started with an environmental strategy a little bit earlier than most Fortune 500 companies.”

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Research and strategic planning gave this office product and solutions ­retailer a new way to do business. If a company told you it could reduce your SKUs by 70%, give back more than 10% of your linear footage, and grow your business by 20%, all at the same time, would that be enough to turn your head?OfficeMax hopes so, and after the successful partnership it developed with national grocer Safeway, the office products and solutions provider developed a five-year plan to make it happen. 

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