Janes bags top Ohio grocers’ honorJanuary 24, 2017
CHILLICOTHE — Taking a quick walk through Joe Janes’ Corner Market off Charleston Pike, it’s hard to escape a feeling of family.
It’s there on the walls throughout the store in images hand-created by Ellen Doerres-Placier, Jeff Speakman and Patrick Sims — the family’s dairy barn, one of their farm cats, the homestead and kitchen where Janes and his sister, Beth Neal, grew up, and plenty of other visuals.
It’s there behind the deli counter in the form of Donna Pollock, who has worked for the store started by Joe’s father, Carl, since the 51-year-old Joe was seven years old.
It’s there in Janes himself as he moves among his customers, greeting several by name and treating them like family because, in his mind, they are.
The Corner Market is just one of 18 properties The Janes Group operates, including 15 Save A Lot stories, the Corner Market and two convenience stores, not to mention a commercial real estate business. It’s apparent, however, that it is a special place for him — a place he would rather be out on the floor mingling with staff and customers than staying tucked back in the store’s small office.
It’s that approach to his business that has earned him the Ohio Grocers Association’s Pinnacle Award for overall excellence in grocery retail operations. Kristin Mullins, president and CEO of the association, visited the Corner Market Tuesday to present the honor to Janes as the state’s winner in the multi-store operator’s division.
“When we decide who’s worthy of this award every year, we look at things like (human resources) management, community involvement, merchandising, new and innovative approaches to grocery retailing and then, of course, just overall success,” Mullins said. “Joe pretty easily rose to the top as someone who was very worthy to be a recipient.”
Janes was quick to deflect some of the credit, saying it has been the people he’s found to place around him in his stores who have made the real difference. Finding those people and then creating an environment in which they want to work has been the real key to success, he noted.
What I concentrate on is finding, hiring, training and retaining the right people – Joe Janes
“What I concentrate on is finding, hiring, training and retaining the right people,” he said. “In today’s world, it’s very difficult to find the right people, but I find them and I find a way to get them on board and create an atmosphere that they feel respects them so that they stay here with us. It’s not all about how much money and how many benefits, a lot of it is about when you wake up in the morning, do you feel appreciated, respected, do you feel like you’re contributing to what you’re doing?
“If the answer to all those questions is yes, then we have a competitive advantage over some of our bigger institutional competitors who really assign people a number and treat them as such.”
Janes can lay claim to having literally grown up around the grocery business, with Carl opening a store in 1962 in roughly the same spot on which the Corner Market now operates. That store — which Janes describes as being in an old, wood-floored house with an improvised eight-foot deli counter — was in operation for ten years, with Janes having been born in 1965. Then, in 1972, it was torn down to make room for a 3,000-square-foot facility and in 1978 it was expanded by another 7,000 square feet.
Carl ran that business until 1992, when it was leased to the Crabtree family which operated it under the Don’s IGA name until if was destroyed by fire in 2009. The Janes family decided to rebuild it as the Corner Market in honor of the original store on the site.
Carl also operated another store in Chillicothe, Carl’s IGA, and when nobody would buy that, he converted it to a Save A Lot franchise and enjoyed success with that store.
Despite growing up around the business, it was not Joe Janes’ first career choice.
“(My father’s) instructions to me all along had been, ‘Joe, whatever you do, get an education and don’t ever come back into the grocery business,'” he said.
At first, Janes took that advice, attending Miami University and then American University Law School in Washington, D.C. He got a job overseas dealing with mergers and acquisitions for an American law firm in Europe and stayed for 11 years. In that time, his father changed his tune.
“(My father) kept saying, ‘Come back here and try the grocery business,'” he said. “I thought I’d come back for a year and see how my mom and dad were doing, I hadn’t been home for a long time, and I started out and opened up the third Save-A-Lot that we had and we just kept going forward.”
While Janes late last year opened his latest Save A Lot in the Columbus area, his future plans are focused on making additional investments to improve the stores he already operates. In what both he and Mullins said is a difficult time for the grocery industry with several chains closing stores due to stiff competition, he is choosing to solidify his operations now to position for future growth later.
His father had the opportunity to see him received the award Tuesday and expressed pride in the way Janes has built the business.
“He’s worked hard at it, learned the business,” Carl Janes said. “Of course, without good employees, we can’t do anything and we’re very fortunate to be able to hire good people and keep good people. The thing that Joe does is he insists on good service for the customer. Those are the two most important things.”
From The Chillicothe Gazette | January 24, 2017