THREE GENERATIONS OF ANDRONICOS

ALBANY, Calif. -- After 75 years in business, an Andronico is still running Andronico's.Bill Andronico, 46, is the third generation of his family to preside over Andronico's here, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.Asked why so few members of a family's third generation stay in the grocery business, Andronico told SN, "It comes down to personalities. In some cases, the sibling

ALBANY, Calif. -- After 75 years in business, an Andronico is still running Andronico's.

Bill Andronico, 46, is the third generation of his family to preside over Andronico's here, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

Asked why so few members of a family's third generation stay in the grocery business, Andronico told SN, "It comes down to personalities. In some cases, the sibling doesn't want to take direction from a parent or older relative.

"In addition, the farther you get from the founder, the more family members that tend to be involved in the business and the more divergent their goals become. Depending how the power has been spread, it can quickly get to a point that people are not going to get along."

That hasn't been a problem for Andronico's, he said. "At the time of the transition from my grandfather to my dad, there was a stock buyback from most of the family members and employees who had an ownership stake, and that has made it less complicated over the years."

Currently, only four family members have ownership in the business: Bill Andronico, his sister Connie, his brother Frank, and their mother Demetra.

Although she serves as chairman, Demetra Andronico is not involved in the business per se, her son explained. "She defers to me on most decisions, and she also gives me feedback from the stores," he noted.

His sister handles property management and contracts for the company and also oversees product tastings, while his brother is not involved in the business, Andronico said.

The company's founder, Frank Andronicos (who eventually dropped the "s" from his name) emigrated to San Francisco from his native Greece in 1906 to work with his older brothers as a produce buyer. In 1929, he struck out on his own, opening Park and Shop in downtown Berkeley -- a store that's still in business at the same location.

Growing up, Bill Andronico said he was close to his grandfather. "We hung out together a lot. He was a very principled man who was unyielding in what he believed. He was a hard worker at both business and play, and I learned my work ethic from him -- to know what you believe in, and then live by it."

The company didn't open its second Park and Shop store until 1956, the same year the founder's son, John Andronico, joined the business. Bill Andronico joined the company during his senior year of high school, and worked at various jobs while attending the University of California at Berkeley

He said he was never pressured to join the family business,"and I wouldn't force it on my daughters."

John Andronico worked until shortly before he died at age 76 in 1999. "He backed away from the business slowly," his son recalled. "He knew his succession plan for me needed to evolve, and so he divested responsibility over several years. He started to back off in the early 1990s, although he continued to visit the stores and give me feedback. He taught me the importance of keeping in touch with the stores.

When the company remodeled its second store in 1986, it changed the banner to Andronico's "because we thought it was important to differentiate ourselves from other supermarkets that had generic names or less-than-imposing banners," Andronico said.

Two signs in the company's waiting room define it today.

According to one, a mission statement: "We are a family of passionate people committed to providing a unique and exciting shopping experience. Our mission is to offer unsurpassed customer service and superior quality food."

The other, a vision statement, reads: "As a team bounded by integrity, enthusiasm and respect for others, we are empowered to accomplish our mission with a revolutionary outlook. We initiate and encourage change, taking responsibility for our actions in pursuit of excellence."

Andronico said the mission statement outlines the purpose of the business, while the vision statement defines "how people in the organization interact with each other to deliver on that mission."

He said both statements were created by 30 associates in 1997.

Asked about the "revolutionary outlook" mentioned in the vision statement, Andronico explained, "That refers to our interest in always looking for the next thing that will get us more clearly focused or that differentiates how we go to market and how we are perceived by customers, or the next opportunity to grow the business or how to do things better." Some might consider this an operating philosophy for the next 75 years.