WOOSTER, Ohio – E&H Family Group, parent company of Buehler’s, announced the sale of its 13 supermarkets to employees today in the form of an employee stock ownership program.
All 2,100 employees will be retained in the transition and eligible employees will become owners with the ESOP. All of the supermarkets will remain open and keep the same hours of operation.
“This was a decision we did not take lightly. Our generation of Buehlers are reaching retirement age and we think this a better option than selling the business to outsiders,” Dan Buehler, president and COO, E&H Family Group, said in a written statement.
“We want these supermarkets to be here serving customers and providing good jobs well into the future. There’s no one better qualified than our own employees to carry on that mission. We believe that the transition to an ESOP is a winning solution for the Buehler family, our employees and the communities we serve.”
The ESOP will be operated by the newly formed Buehler’s Fresh Foods, retaining the name and led by an experienced team of Buehler’s veterans, including Dan Shanahan, Buehler’s Fresh Foods president and COO since 2011, Rick Lowe, vice president of Human Resources of E&H Family Group since 1977, and Mike Davidson, vice president of Store Operations since 2015.
Shanahan will serve as president and CEO of the new company, Lowe will be executive vice president and CAO and Davidson will be executive vice president of store operations.
Four generations of Buehlers have worked in the family business since its founding in 1929. Buehler’s Fresh Foods grocery store was started by E.L. (Ed) Buehler and his wife, Helen. After opening their first store in New Philadelphia, the Buehler family moved the business to Wooster in 1932 and opened a store near the northeast corner of Public Square. The new store prospered under Ed’s direction with his emphasis on customer service, free delivery, garden-fresh produce and a clean, friendly grocery store atmosphere.