Dave’s County Market of Merrill was recently recognized by the Wisconsin Grocer’s Association with an Excellence in Operations Award. The official presentation is being done this week at the association’s annual convention and expo.
Stores that win the award show a strong commitment to their employees, their customers and their communities, said Brandon Scholz, president & CEO of the Wisconsin Grocer’s Association.
“It recognizes what they do in the store and in the community,” he said.
Dave’s County Market is involved in many service projects in the community, assisting with numerous fundraisers throughout the year.
The business also recently completed a comprehensive remodeling and expansion project that improved nearly every aspect of the store. The investment in the business demonstrates a commitment to the community, Scholz said. The owners, the Bonnell family, Scholz pointed out are very involved in the operation of the store.
“They are very hands-on owner/operators,” he said. “The owners work in the store.”
Dave Bonnell bought his first grocery store in Merrill, Dave’s Red Owl, in 1975. Seeing the opportunity for growth, he purchased the former Pamida store in 1997 and opened the new County Market. Dave passed away unexpectedly in 2005. His wife, Rita, daughter Barb (Bonnell) Haffemann and sons David and Jeff took over the leadership of the business.
“This really is a success story,” Scholz said.
Kevin Mahaney, account manager for SuperValu, nominated Dave’s County Market for the award.
“Every year we pick the leaders of the industry and the models,” he said. “(Dave’s County Market) has done such a good job with the remodel, and what really impressed me was the family and the way they work together as a team.”
He said he was also impressed with the way employees are treated.
“They take care of their employees like a family,” he said.
“It’s a great story and I was honored to be able to recognize them and honored that they received the award,” Mahaney added.
Barb Haffemann said the family hadn’t anticipated receiving the award.
“You do your job and want to take care of the customer,” she said. “It’s nice to be recognized, but we didn’t expect it.”
Haffemann was quick to credit the County Market staff for their role in achieving success.
“We have a great staff,” she said. “They know what we want. It may say Bonnell family on the plaque, but it’s definitely due to our staff.”