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ST. LOUIS -- Greg Dierberg, largely considered the architect of the dramatic expansion of Dierbergs Markets Inc.'s industry-leading prepared foods program, has been named c.e.o. and president, succeeding his father Bob Dierberg, 67, who had held those titles since 1976.
The elder Dierberg will remain chairman, while his daughter Laura Dierberg Padousis has been named v.p. and secretary. As part of the executive shifts at the 23-store chain, Andy Pauk was promoted to c.o.o. in addition to his current role as s.v.p.
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The new president said the changes don't presage shifts in strategy. "The transition is not about a new direction, but more about how we are positioning ourselves for the future," Greg Dierberg told Progressive Grocer. "We will look to reinforce the key strategic advantages we have in our organization, which include prepared foods, service, and variety, among others."
Dierberg said the management transition follows on the heels of one the grocery company's busiest years in recent history, which included two new store openings in April and September and two major remodels, one of which is ongoing in its Chesterfield, Mo., supermarket location not far from the family company's corporate headquarters.
The executive suite transition "formalizes a management structure we have had in place for some time," said Bob Dierberg. "This team brings innovative thinking, down-to-earth business principles and fresh, exciting new ideas for products and merchandising. They have a shared respect for our company's traditions and values and an uncompromising approach to customer service that will keep Dierbergs a strong and viable supermarket retailer within the community for many years."
As chairman, the elder Dierberg said he intends to remain very involved in the company's continued growth, overall retail operations, and governmental and union relations.
"On a personal level, I've always considered it a privilege to share the workday with my children. This is an exciting new chapter in our company's history. I look forward to watching and working with Greg and Laura in their expanded leadership roles as they continue to contribute to the future of this business their great grandfather started so many years ago. "
The 35-year-old Greg Dierberg has been e.v.p. since 2000, and has held various leadership roles within the company since coming aboard in 1994. Prior to that, he learned the wholesale aspect of the business while working in Minneapolis for Dierbergs' supplier, Supervalu.
Laura Dierberg Padousis, 32, most recently was Dierbergs' v.p./corporate development, focusing on sales forecasting and analysis as well as community affairs. Prior to that, she worked primarily in store operations since joining the company in 1998 after working at Fleishman-Hillard public relations agency.
Andy Pauk, 46, has worked for Dierbergs for 30 years, the last 12 in the corporate office. He was named s.v.p. in 2000, and before that played leadership roles as director of operations, director of non-perishables and positions in product procurement. His 18 years at the store level commenced in 1976 and included a variety of management positions including five years as store director at various Dierbergs locations. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Missouri/St. Louis.
Bob Dierberg, 67, has worked full-time in his family business since 1961. Under his leadership, the company often led St. Louis, and sometimes the country, in supermarket design and innovations. In 1978, its new Lafayette Center store in Manchester boasted the first in-store FTD florist in St. Louis and the nation's first in-store cooking school. In 1980 the company introduced an in-store bank, the first of its kind locally and possibly nationally.
Greg Dierberg and Laura Dierberg Padousis represent the business' fourth generation of family leadership. Dierbergs traces its roots to a Creve Coeur country store founded in 1854. Greg and Laura's great grandfather William F. Dierberg started working at the business in 1910, and purchased it in 1914.
"I grew up in this business, I watched my dad nurture it, and I learned from him what it takes to be successful," said Greg Dierberg. "So, in many ways, I've prepared for this position for years. I'm humbled by the opportunity but eager -- and energized -- to contribute to and ensure this company's continued success. To that end, I'm also confident, because we have an extraordinary group of associates who are coming up with great ideas and doing outstanding work every single day," said Dierberg.
The younger Dierberg has demonstrated a keen knack for merchandising. He also has a passion for the perishable side of the business, and is credited with dramatically increasing the offerings of fresh-made foods from Dierbergs Kitchen, arguably one of the largest collections of prepared foods in the United States.
"You have to continually look for ways to improve your business...to distinguish it from your competitors and to better serve your customers," Greg Dierberg said. "This is a family business with strong roots in this community and my sister and I are committed to ensuring its success for years, and hopefully many generations, to come."
Dierbergs employs nearly 5,000 Associates in 23 stores in Missouri's St. Louis and St. Charles counties and in the Illinois counties of Madison and St. Clair.