Give Hy-Vee a high five for being one of the largest privately owned US supermarket chains, despite serving some modestly sized towns in the Midwest. The company runs some 235 stores in eight Midwestern states: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. About half of its supermarkets are in Iowa, as are most of its nearly two dozen Hy-Vee drugstores. It distributes products to its stores through several subsidiaries, including Lomar Distributing (specialty foods) and Perishable Distributors of Iowa (fresh foods). Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg founded the employee-owned firm in 1930. It takes its name from a combination of its founders' names.
In addition to its food and drug retail operations, Hy-Vee offers customers financial products. Adding to its menu of financial services, Hy-Vee subsidiary Midwest Heritage Bank in 2011 acquired Iowa-based L&K Insurance, a full-line insurance agency. L&K changed its name to Midwest Heritage Insurance Services post sale.
Hy-Vee's 235 stores rang up more than $7.3 billion in sales in fiscal 2011 (ends September), vs. about $6.9 billion the previous year.
Hy-Vee is gradually expanding in several key markets in the Midwest, including Chicago, Minneapolis, and Madison, Wisconsin. To that end, the regional grocery chain opened its first supermarket in Madison in 2009, marking its entry into a new state for the first time in nearly 20 years. To cater to local tastes, the company says the 92,000-sq.-ft. Madison store has the largest cheese selection of any Hy-Vee supermarket. Hy-Vee is also testing a smaller-format store (about 20,000-25,000 sq. ft., with no pharmacies) in select locations. The chain is also growing in existing markets. In 2010 it purchased a pair of stores in South Dakota and another in Minnesota from local rival Sunshine Foods.
Going beyond traditional grocery fare, Hy-Vee has teamed up with specialty pharmacy operator Amber Pharmacy to form a new company (called Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions) to provide services for patients with complex and chronic health problems, including Crohn's disease, hemophilia, psoriasis, and other chronic ailments. The grocery chain has also been focusing on adding Hy-Vee Gas convenience units (some 80 locations include these), wine and spirits stores, pharmacies, and Hy-Vee HealthMarket departments.
Ric Jurgens in 2012 retired as chairman and CEO after 43-years with Hy-Vee. He was succeeded by president and COO Randy Edeker. – less