The Golub Corporation History
Schenectady, New York 12306
Telephone: (518) 355-5000
Fax: (518) 355-0843
Sales: $1.60 billion (1997 est.)
SICs: 5141 Groceries, General Line; 5399 Miscellaneous General Merchandise Stores; 5411 Grocery Stores; 5912 Drug Stores & Proprietary Stores
The Golub Corporation is committed to providing our customers with recognizable quality and value for the products and services offered, our Associates with challenging, culturally diverse, friendly, participative and rewarding environments free of harassment and intimidation, our community with people and resources to maintain and improve the quality of life, and our shareholders with a fair return on investments over the long term.
"Successful, innovative, and civic-minded" are terms that describe well The Golub Corporation of Schenectady, New York. Golub, parent company of Price Chopper Supermarkets, has been a leader in the retail grocery industry for over 60 years. From a single store in upstate New York in 1932, the company has grown to operate over 100 supermarkets, service stations, and convenience stores in five different states--and the growth has been near phenomenal. At fiscal year-end 1997, the corporation experienced a 16.36 percent increase in sales from the previous year with total sales in excess of $1.6 billion.
Small Change and a Million-Dollar Dream, 1900s
The earliest roots of the company date back to 1900 when Lewis Golub, a Russian immigrant, first arrived in this country. Like many immigrants, he had small change in his pocket but a very large dream in his heart. He quickly set out to build the dream, opening a wholesale grocery warehouse on Van Guysling Avenue in Schenectady in 1908. Lewis understood that even in hard times when money was short, people would need to eat. He saw this not only as a stable means of support for his own family, but also as a way to provide an important need within his community. From the very beginning, Lewis saw himself as indebted to the community which helped him get his start and always placed a high value on every employee and his or her needs.
Brothers William and Bernard
As with most family businesses, children grew up very much a part of making the business happen. Lewis's two sons, William and Bernard, helped out after school by hauling sacks and barrels of goods in the warehouse. Through their many hours pushing a broom, cleaning windows, and straightening shelves, the boys acquired both the knowledge of how to succeed as well as the commitment to the community that their father valued so highly. Upon the death of their father in 1930, William and Bernard joined with Joseph Grosberg in a partnership to continue operating the business. At this same time, the grocery industry as a whole was struggling. With the stock market crash and high unemployment, money was generally scarce and consumer spending weak. The new owners had to make some serious changes to revitalize their father's dream.
"Innovation = Success," 1930s
In November 1932, Bill and Bernard ("Ben") Golub embraced the entirely new concept of self-service retail merchandising. This was, in fact, an early development of what were later to be known as "supermarkets." The brothers broadened the product lines and purchased goods in very large quantities to reduce costs that they could then pass along to customers in the form of lower prices. The first store was located in Green Island, in northern New York, and was called the Public Service Market. The store went beyond the traditional grocery items to include fresh meat and produce, dry goods, clothing, and home appliances, all under the same roof. The success of the operation soon became very clear as the customer base grew rapidly. Within only a few months, two more stores opened, one on Broadway in Watervliet, New York, and the other on Eastern Parkway in Schenectady, New York. The third store which opened just around the corner from Central Park in Schenectady inspired the name of the newly established chain of stores, Central Market.
A Generation of Growing and Caring, 1940s-70s
Over the next four decades, The Golub Corporation continued to grow and succeed through its commitment to offer a wide variety of products and low prices. By the late 1950s there were Central Markets in operation throughout New York and into Massachusetts. New stores were being opened rapidly. By 1963, the company had opened seven more stores; four more opened in 1965. During this time, the corporation became a leader in the supermarket industry, taking chances on new ideas and encouraging creative approaches within the company. The company took seriously the participation of every employee in its operation, inviting their creativity. Service to the local community became a hallmark of Golub. Before corporate image became fashionable, Golub gave back to the community. One early example of this was providing free seeds and seedlings to 4H members and offering to buy back the best of the young farmers' crops. This program alone, begun in 1964, has helped over 2,000 youngsters to date.
Passing the Torch, 1972
In May 1972 the company mourned the death of Bernard Golub, then chairman of the board. He was known affectionately as "Mr. Ben" to all of his extended family within the corporation. Indeed he had left behind the tradition of his own father, that of innovation and caring. The business continued on in the hands of William Golub, known as "Mr. Bill," and the next 20 years saw the emergence of a new generation of Golubs to lead the company. Lewis Golub, Bernard's son, and Neil, William's son, had grown up in the business just as their fathers had and, as time would prove, they caught their fathers' passion and honored their legacy.
In 1972, the company adopted an "open 24 hours" policy to further its commitment to provide first-rate customer service. It also proved to enhance customer loyalty because of the great psychological impact of "always being there" for their customers. In 1973, the company began a companywide makeover and soon emerged with a renewed focus on providing goods at the lowest price under its new name: Price Chopper Discount Foods. The strategy was to become known as an everyday low price operator who did not rely on gimmicks to lure customers into its stores. The company added many more stores to its group as well during this time. In October 1992, William "Mr. Bill" Golub passed away, leaving his final mark on the company and completing the passing on of the torch to Lewis and Neil Golub.
Price Chopper--Food Online
By the fall of 1998, The Golub Corporation, under the name of Price Chopper, grew to over 100 retail outlets, including supermarkets, service stations, and convenience stores operating in five northeastern states. The newest of its stores ranged from 50,000 to 83,000 square feet in size and carried a blend of food and non-food items In addition to this, in many stores customers could also find a pharmacy, floral shop, video department, dry cleaning service, and a bank.
In addition to continuing its low prices, the company renewed its commitment to quality service and convenience, establishing a year-round hotline with cooks available to answer food-related questions from customers. Through this hotline, and the mouth-to-mouth advertising it provided, the company hoped to build its customer base and the loyalty of its existing customers.
Innovation has always been important at Price Chopper. The company started a "House Calls" service inviting customers to contact Price Chopper by toll-free phone, fax, or their own web site in order to get groceries delivered to their home or business for their family or party needs. Over 5,000 items including fresh meat and seafood, produce, and deli and bakery goods were made available through this service. In addition to "House Calls," Price Chopper developed "Ready Meals" and an "Online SOS" service to provide prepared food delivered at the customer's desired time and place. The menu was designed to offer a wide variety of meals highlighting local cuisine items ranging from "Rachael Ray's Blue Moon Burgers" to "Shrimp, Feta and Pasta Salad" combination meals.
To support its overall marketing efforts, Price Chopper established an industry-standard computer local area network (LAN) to work in conjunction with its point-of-sale (POS) system in each of its stores. This resulted in much faster and more efficient service to the customers and also cut the costs to Price Chopper to about half of what its former POS system cost them, reported Dave Daigler, technical maintenance supervisor of Golub Corporation. The state-of-the-art computer system also helped handle the technology demands of its online food ordering service. An "AdvantEdge Card" issued to customers offered automatic discounts at the checkout in addition to any manufacturer's coupons that the customers presented. The card also gave customers check-cashing privileges, automatic frequent-shopper additional discounts, and other perks.
Price Chopper: A Good Neighbor
By the late 1990s, under the leadership of Chairman and CEO Lewis Golub and President and COO Neil Golub, the company grew not only as a leader in the supermarket industry, but as a leader in its commitment to its employees, called "Associates," and the community. Associates of the company were considered active partners in the corporation and, by 1998, actually owned more than 44 percent of the company stock. The company provided the customary health and life insurance, retirement savings, and vacation benefits to associates but also offered educational reimbursements and many options for advancing with the company. Since 1932, the company has never recorded a single lost day due to labor disputes or strikes. In 1991, The Golub Corporation was recognized by New York's Capital District Personnel Association as one of the "10 Best Places to Work."
As a good corporate citizen, Golub/Price Chopper prided itself on the slogan "We're not just in your neighborhood. We're your neighbor." In 1998, company literature identified over 10,000 charitable and philanthropic organizations that benefited from its financial support. The programs it supported included drug abuse programs, support for senior citizen groups, providing Golub Foundation scholarships, and funds for research at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Price Chopper helped start a hospice for the terminally ill and was for many years a major supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon which Neil Golub regularly cohosted. It provided significant support to the United Way with emphasis on youth and the elderly. Arts and athletics were regularly supported through major grants to the Albany and Schenectady Symphonies, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the Knickerbockers Arena. In 1995 alone, hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent sponsoring free events and giving free and discounted tickets to those less fortunate who may have otherwise been unable to participate in these activities.
Successful and Independent, 1998 and Beyond
By 1998, Price Chopper found itself deeply involved in a food industry that was becoming increasingly complex and competitive. In the face of a growing number of grocery outlets consolidating and merging, The Golub Corporation renewed its commitment to remain an independent player. Officers of the company were very optimistic, citing that the most important reasons for its success in the past would pave the way for a successful future, that is, by innovative merchandising of its products and services and by continuously satisfying its customers.
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- Amato-McCoy, Deena, "Price Chopper Rebates Build Loyalty," Supermarket News, March 3, 1997.
- "Benchmarking and Best Practices: The Road to Success," Grocery Marketing, July 1996.
- Bennet, Stephen, "Fast and Furious," Progressive Grocer, September 1995.
- "Credit and Debit Fees Hold Steady Since Price Chopper Complaint," Chain Store Age Executive with Shopping Center Age, January 1996.
- "The Do-It-Yourself Solution," Grocery Marketing, August 1995.
- Fox, Bruce, "Price Chopper POS Moving from Unique to Standard (Point of Sale System)," Chain Store Age Executive with Shopping Center Age, July 1995.
- Greco, Jo Ann, "Retailing's Rule Breakers," Journal of Business Strategy, March-April 1997.
- Hammel, Frank, "On Time Arrivals," Progressive Grocer, September 1997.
- Harper, Roseanne, "Price Chopper Stresses Services," Supermarket News, April 24, 1995.
- Johnston, JoAnn, "Food Fight: Price Chopper Battles to Remain Successful and Independent," Times-Union, October 25, 1998.
- Papiernik, Richard L., "Home-Meal Battle Warms Up," Nation's Restaurant News, December 15, 1997.
- "Price Chopper Completes Wonder Deal," Supermarket News, January 29, 1996.
- "Price Chopper Expands EAS Technology to 20 Stores," Supermarket News, February 2, 1998.
- Raiola, Ralph, "Price Chopper Fights Fast Food Chains," Supermarket News, February 3, 1997.
- "Report of the Vocational and Educational Services for Individual with Disabilities (VESID)," May 1998.
- Robinson, Alan, "Price Chopper Scores with HMR," Frozen Food Age, January 1997.
- Tosh, Mark, "Silver Bullet," Progressive Grocer, August 1, 1998.
- Vaczek, David, "Renewing the Prescription," Supermarket Pharmacy, June 1995.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26. St. James Press, 1999.