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2011 Power 50: No. 25 Hank Meijer

With big, inviting stores that offer one-stop shopping for everything from fresh produce to tennis shoes, Meijer Inc. could no doubt find success in markets across the United States. But that’s not how Chief Executive Officer Hank Meijer wants to grow. He’d rather focus on strengthening bonds with customers in the five-state region where his company currently operates.

“We continue our focus on slow, steady growth,” said Meijer, in a recent statement. “This has allowed us to thrive in a tough retail environment, while supporting our customers, team members and the communities where they work and live.”

This philosophy was on display earlier this year, when Meijer announced it would spend $75 million to remodel 10 stores in Michigan and Ohio. The project will provide routine maintenance as well as a face-lift to lighting, refrigeration and other store facilities. The investment will also bring technology upgrades to make the stores more energy efficient.

Meijer’s store growth is similarly focused on its core market. And while the number of openings this year — two — is conservative, the features inside each store are nothing short of state-of-the-art.

In May, the company opened a 191,000-square-foot supercenter in southwest Michigan that’s engineered to maximize the one-stop-shopping experience. There’s a pharmacy at the front of the store, wider aisles, more light and an all-inclusive baby section. The store also features the latest in energy-efficient technology, including a reflective roof and low-flow plumbing that uses 40% less water than a typical store.

“We have taken many steps to ensure this new store has a reduced carbon footprint,” said Hank Meijer. “Our customers expect high standards from us and our investment in southwest Michigan will ensure they continue to receive our very best.”

The company has also embraced innovations that allow it to connect with an increasingly tech-savvy customer base. Last year, the retailer launched a digital couponing program and a “Find It” phone application that helps shoppers navigate their local store. This year, Meijer launched, an ecommerce site that offers more than 5,000 items, from HBC to dry grocery. In April, Meijer rolled out an order-to-store program that allows customers to buy products online, then receive an email when they’re available to pick up at a nearby store.

Amidst all these developments, Meijer has stayed true to its principle of charitable giving. Each year, the company donates 6% of its net profits to local charities. This spring, Meijer held its eight-week “Simply Give” drive, which allows customers to buy $10 donation cards in-store that are then converted to Meijer gift cards and distributed to area food pantries. The drive was the company’s eighth in the past three years, and it brought in $270,000 in donations, bringing the program’s net total to just over $2 million.