When 6-year-old Dee Smith began sweeping floors at his father’s Lorenzo Smith & Sons grocery store when it opened in Brigham City in 1932, he embarked on a career in what he later called the people business — grocery retailing.
In 80 years, the innovative grocer has grown into 125 Smith’s Food & Drug centers, six multidepartment Smith’s Marketplace stores and 75 fuel stations in the Intermountain West.
Smith’s Food & Drug
Stores and workers » 133 locations in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, employing 15,300 people
Parent company » Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., the nation’s largest traditional grocery retailer, employing 338,000 associates
Virtues inspired by Dee Smith have remained a part of the corporate culture, even after the company became a part of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. in 1999.
Today, Smith’s continues to lead the retail marketplace in many areas:
• It is one of Utah’s largest employers, with more than 6,600 associates working in 47 stores, division offices and the Layton Distribution Center. The division is investing $10 million in associate training this year alone.
• The company, in partnership with employees, customers, suppliers and the Kroger Foundation, awarded $9.5 million in food and cash to Utah organizations in 2011. Smith’s also contributed to Kroger being named by Forbes magazine as the most generous company in America in 2011, based on charitable giving measured as a percentage of pre-tax profits.
• It has reduced energy usage 35 percent since 2000, recycled the equivalent of 1 million plastic bags in one year and required suppliers to have humane animal-kill practices and set sustainable seafood goals.
In 1950, Dee Smith opened his first store, in Brigham City, where he initiated the then-new self-serve format in which shoppers selected their own groceries and purchased them at a check stand. During the next 10 years, the company grew to a total of five stores in northern Utah.
In the 1960s, Smith’s expanded to 21 stores in Utah and acquired a nonfood warehouse and supplier. In 1976, Smith built the first Smith’s combination food and drug store, at 2100 S. 900 East in Salt Lake City, launching a one-stop shopping format with a complete grocery and selection of household goods.
Smith’s expanded store size in the 1980s from 50,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet to incorporate new services such as video rentals, nutrition centers, bulk food aisles, fresh fish departments and ice cream parlors.
Today, from its division office in Salt Lake City, Smith’s 15,300 associates serve customers in Utah with 47 stores, Nevada 40 stores, New Mexico 25, Wyoming eight, and four stores each in Idaho, Arizona and Montana.
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