ONE FAMILY'S SURVIVAL

SPARKS, Nev. -- The Scolaris are but one of the many successful families in the food industry. And, as the story often goes, brothers Joey and Jerry grew up four doors down from their father's store on California's central coast."We were dad's best help," Joey recalled. "Whether it was unloading trucks or sweeping floors, we did it all. It was hard work."Years later, Joey left his management position

SPARKS, Nev. -- The Scolaris are but one of the many successful families in the food industry. And, as the story often goes, brothers Joey and Jerry grew up four doors down from their father's store on California's central coast.

"We were dad's best help," Joey recalled. "Whether it was unloading trucks or sweeping floors, we did it all. It was hard work."

Years later, Joey left his management position to go to college intent on finding a career in another area. But the work was in his blood, and the money was good too, he said. He came back to turn around an underperforming store, and then became a buyer for the liquor category.

When Joe Scolari sold the family business to Lucky Stores, his sons started over, operating a convenience store. In 1982, the brothers purchased the Reno, Nev.-based Warehouse Markets chain. In 1991, they changed the name to Scolari's Food & Drug Co. Now with 19 stores, the owners of the largest privately held chain in northern Nevada keep a tight reign on the family business, based here in Sparks. Their board of directors consists of Joey (chief executive officer), Jerry (chief operating officer), their father Joe (chairman), plus a chief financial officer and one outside attorney. The brothers still visit every store, but their expansion means they can only make it about every other week, instead of every week, or every day, as they did in the past.

At age 51, Joey is in no hurry to retire, and his four children (aged 2 through 9) are a little young to talk succession (Jerry has five children aged 13 to 25). But, he's not sure which of them, if any, will want to be in the business.

"The business has gotten a lot more complicated," Joey said. "They see how tough it is, and I don't know if they'll want to stay in it. I don't know if they'll have the drive for it."

Until that decision is made, Joey and Jerry use their family environment as a competitive advantage against larger, publicly held chains.

"Customer service is our biggest advantage," he said. "We pick the right people to do the right jobs. Our No. 1 goal is to see that the customer is taken care of, because everybody sells a can of corn for the same price."