CSD: Tedeschi’s Showcases Pride and Tradition

Oct 28, 2010

By John Lofstock

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of an article from Convenience Store Decisions magazine.

other chains may have more stores, few companies can match the rich tradition
and deep roots Tedeschi Food Shops has planted in the convenience store industry.
In business since 1923, the company’s nine decades of service in the New England
market is a distinguishing feature the company wears with pride beginning with
third-generation President and CEO Peter Tedeschi all the way down to the employees
that man the front lines.

“We take great pride in our past, but we are also keenly focused on our
future,” said Mr. Tedeschi, who took the reigns as president and CEO from
Charlie Fitzgibbons in 2008. “That means we are committed to building
the best stores, with the best service and the best value. We’re not looking
to pay lip service to delivering a great retail environment; it’s an important
part of our culture.”

To that end, Tedeschi Food Shops is in the midst
of once again transforming its retail image with a new store design, a thriving
proprietary foodservice program and a growing private label food and beverage
brand. Tedeschi-branded fuels anchor the forecourt.

But Mr. Tedeschi, grandson
of founder Angelo Tedeschi, firmly believes in the company motto, “Proud
of our past, focused on our future.” Angelo
Tedeschi emigrated to the U.S. from Italy before opening his first meat market.
Today, with dozens of franchisee-operated units, the company is providing a
stable business opportunity for a generation of new Americans.

At the same
time, the grandson maintains, it is critical to connect with the younger generation
to ensure the brand remains fresh and relevant. “As
an outsider that is still fairly new to the company’s operations, I have a
keen understanding of the history of the brand. My father, my uncles, my cousins,
and the people that built the company believed in providing a service. They
knew the profits would come, but it was all about the service, so we need to
continually reinforce that message,” he said.

Part of that message can
be traced back to the Great Depression, a time not unlike today, which was
extremely challenging for scores of New England residents, but also an era
that gobbled up businesses and erased corporate fortunes. Angelo Tedeschi kept
the company afloat by extending credit to customers and accepting payment as
the money trickled in to desperate customers. It wasn’t the best of times for
the Tedeschi clan, but doing the right thing for its customers only served
to further enhance the reputation of this family owned business.

“The country was in a bad spot, but my grandfather never thought twice
about helping as much as he could,” Mr. Tedeschi said. “We need to
remind consumers that we have been around since 1923, and we’re still here.
We survived the Great Depression alongside your grandparents and served your
parents, and now it’s our turn to serve you. Proud of our past, focused on
our future. That’s what we’re all about.”

Discussion Questions: What are the advantages as well as the disadvantages
of family-owned retailers, especially those long in existence? What challenges
might they face that would be different than more corporate-driven retailers?

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4 Comments on "CSD: Tedeschi’s Showcases Pride and Tradition"

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Steve Montgomery
11 years 6 months ago
I have know the Tedeschi family since the early ’80s and have watched them grow from a well run small chain into a regional powerhouse. They have avoided the failure many chains in the c-store industry have experienced when growth for growth sake was the goal. Instead, they have concentrated on the quality of locations rather than the quantity of them. One of the difficulties family-run businesses encounter is that the former generations worked very hard to build something in part so their children would have a better life. Subsequent generations have that better life and having seen the hard work that it takes to succeed in retail and elect to enter other careers. The other side of the coin is that the following generations feel entitled to a role in the company that they may not be prepared for. In our work with retailers in the industry, we have seen examples of both instances. Another difficulty is in securing the additional talent needed in the business. Many people are hesitant to join a family-run… Read more »
David Biernbaum
11 years 6 months ago

I think it’s fair to say that the benefits of having a small family business are fairly obvious, be it retail, manufacturer, brand, or otherwise. The usual advantages; more personalized, more caring, greater “employee” commitment, faster decision-making, less corporate, etc.

However, the advantages are often similar to the disadvantages in that the business is so very personal to the owners that it’s often a detriment to their long-term success on so many levels. Relatives don’t always make the best executives in the retail or consumer packaged goods business.

Bill Emerson
Bill Emerson
11 years 6 months ago

The primary strength of a family business is that the management “owns” the business. It is their name and their legacy. This yields continuity, passion, and dedication as opposed to those who view their employment as a stepping stone to something bigger or better paying in the future. Large, faceless corporations simply cannot buy the level of dedication seen in family businesses.

The biggest vulnerability of family-owned businesses is that they can become insulated from changes in their industry and customers. To be successful, there must be a relentless curiosity about what others are learning and doing. This comes naturally in the large corporations as they bring in a steady flow of new hires with different experiences and approaches.

Anne Bieler
Anne Bieler
11 years 6 months ago

Tedeschi’s is a great family tradition, but hope they find a way to keep it going. Keeping products and technology current is really difficult for smaller players, finding people is an endless challenge, and making the right choices as competitors evolve will never be easy. They will need guidance and support from a seasoned, trusted source to go forward.


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