Harps Food Stores Pursues Continued Expansion

by George Waldon  on Monday, May. 21, 2012 12:00 am  

Harp's Food Stores President Kim Eskew, left, and CEO Roger Collins stand in front of a store in Springdale. (Photo by Brooke McNeely Galligan)

The company became 100 percent employee-owned after buying out the Harp family and management in 2001. Since then, the per-share value in the employee stock ownership plan has appreciated from $27 to $227, with all employees receiving annual stock allocations.

"The bottom line: They are the owners," Collins said. "The managers aren't getting anything else the cashiers and stockers aren't getting. Everyone is sharing in the success of the company."

To qualify for the ESOP, an employee must have worked for Harps for 12 consecutive months, be 21 or older and have worked at least 1,000 hours.

Collins started with Harps in 1986 as the vice president of finance.

He was promoted to executive vice president in 1995 when the company bought out the interest of long-time President Don Harp, who owned more than half of the grocery chain.

Collins was named president and CEO in 2000, and Kim Eskew, chief operating officer, took on the role of president in 2008.

They are part of a six-member executive committee that leads Harps.

Other executive committee members are Jim Antz, chief financial officer and vice president of finance and administration; Frank Ray, vice president of human resources; J. Max Van Hoose, vice president of store planning; and Mike Thurow, vice president of store systems.

"We're 100 percent employee-owned, and people are excited about the company," Collins said.

"If you can get people engaged and thinking about what they can do to make the company better, you can have a competitive advantage. That's a big deal."



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