Thursday, August 2, 2012

Harmons Celebrates 80 Years in Business

Randy (left) and Bob Harmon at their City Creek store.
 Last week I sat down with Bob and Randy Harmon at their City Creek store to talk about Harmons 80th anniversary. Considering that big-box stores and huge corporate chains have taken over much of the grocery industry, the fact that Harmons has not just survived, but even opened three new stores last year is pretty amazing. My column in today's Deseret News talks about how Harmons decided NOT to try to compete, price-wise, with Walmart. Instead, they focused on freshness, quality and customer service. 
Randy Harmon chats with the chefs as they make soup.
Bob Harmon chats with the chefs who are making soup.

"We heard a lot about WalMart, long before they got here," said Randy Harmon. "They won't let you compete on price, so we don't try to, although we can come close. We have differentiated ourselves in the last 10 years with food that's fresh, quality, and prepared on-site. We try to buy our food direct from the producer, and minimally processed."
The company worked closely with producers to shorten the time it takes to get fresh produce, meat, fish, dairy and baked goods to the store. They began grinding their own beef and made their own sausages in-store. They also sell meat, seafood and poultry that's not plumped with salt water, additives or hormones.
Harmons devotes a lot of space to its prepared foods section, with salad bars, wok bars, and lots of entree items you could just pick up for lunch or dinner. On the morning that I spoke with the Harmon brothers, store chefs from Ogden to St. George gathered around the stoves at the City Creek culinary school to test and taste each others' soup recipes. The goal was to standardize the soup recipes used at all the stores, so that people could expect the same soups no matter which Harmons store they visited.

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