EDINA, Minn. -- Tres Lund sees the combined Lunds and Byerly's operations as one big happy family.
grown together over the years," Lund, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Lund Food Holdings here, told SN.
"A major part of any business is the relationships and culture we create to build an extended family, and that ultimately translates to a deep concern for individual employees and their commitment to help us improve the company."
Shortly after Lunds acquired crosstown rival Byerly's in April 1997, Lund told SN he was approached by a concerned Lunds employee who asked why the company had to get bigger. "She was worried that we'd lose that sense of family and commitment we'd always had," Lund recalled.
"I assured her that bringing Lunds and Byerly's together would improve the company's overall vitality and its ability to grow and build future success. I believe we can continue to grow and never lose that sense of family, but I also asked her to keep challenging me just to make sure."
One way Lund Food Holdings tries to reinforce the extended family theme is by providing scholarships for employees, their children and their grandchildren, Lund said.
"Of course, many publicly held companies give scholarships. But the difference here is, I know the grandchildren of the head cashier or the daughter of the employee getting the scholarship. They have a connection to me that creates that sense of family and connectedness to the ownership.
"Many Fortune 500 companies have done a wonderful job of instilling that feeling of family. And any company can do it, if its focus is developing and building the future. Corporate culture is important, and if people understand there's a sense of purpose and inclusion, they will respond."
Lund also said the merger has created a strong, familial type of bond between himself and Dale Riley, the former president of Byerly's who serves as chief operating officer of Lund Food Holdings. "We have gotten a tremendous amount done since the merger because both of us have embraced the overall belief that the merger is a good thing for both companies.
"The relationship between Dale and me has continued to develop since the integration, and there's something tremendously gratifying about the elements of our relationship. We've both been able to put aside ego issues and other kinds of things that often trip up leaders from competing companies.
"And right down the line, everyone in the organization from Byerly's or Lunds has displayed a tremendous level of confidence, compatibility and competence."
Lund said the merged company takes its corporate responsibilities seriously. "Customers like the idea that there is a Tres Lund at the helm of a family-owned business because it tells them there's someone they can call, a person behind the organization."
To emphasize its community commitment, Lund Food Holdings made unheralded donations to a host of small local charities last fall, Lund said. "We asked the general managers of each of our 19 stores and our production facilities to identify a small organization in their community to which we could donate $1,000.
"Then each manager and I co-signed a letter to the designated group telling them we were aware of their work and embraced what they were doing. The gesture was intended to demonstrate our deep concern to put back into the community and to connect us to them. It tells each organization that what they're doing is not going unnoticed by the company behind Lunds and Byerly's."