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Gary W. Redner, who was killed over the weekend at his home in Lower Heidelberg Township, Pa., was a well-liked member of the senior staff at family-owned Redner's Markets, a retail institution in Reading, Pa.
"He was a very personable man," Redner's consumer communications specialist Eric B. White told Progressive Grocer, adding that the 55-year-old e.v.p. of procurement and director of wholesale operations was a highly approachable "fixture" at the company's offices.
Additionally, like all Redner's corporate executives, Redner was extremely hands-on, performing such tasks as driving product to stores, even on the weekends.
"He'd come in and take the reins and deliver chicken to a store," recalled White, who said Redner understood that "hard work and success go hand in hand."
That work ethic was an essential part of his family's business, which Redner had worked for since it began in 1970. Starting out as a meat cutter in the Red Hill, Pa. store, one of the first two locations purchased by his parents, Earl and Mary, Redner rose through the ranks to become meat manager at various stores within the company.
In 1980 Redner's took over a small distribution center in Reading, which Redner ran, and he began training as a meat/produce buyer, rising in a short time to become the operator's lead meat buyer.
In 1990 he was named to his last position. He also served as secretary on the company's board of directors.
Over the years the business, which in 1975 became the first supermarket company in Pennsylvania to be employee-owned, grew to 39 grocery stores and 12 convenience stores in three states.
The youngest of three children, Redner worked alongside his brother Richard, who is company president, c.e.o., and chairman. The two had managed the business since the 1990 retirement of Earl. Gary W. Redner's son, Gary M., is the director of grocery wholesale operations and assistant to the e.v.p.
Reaction from the state's retailing community was swift and heartfelt. The Camp Hill, Pa.-based Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association said it was "saddened" by Redner's death, remarking, "The Redner family is a great independent supermarket success story, and Gary was a great contributor to the company's growth."
Redner's survivors include his father, his brother Richard, and two adult children.