A new-but-familiar face is now head of locally owned Acme Fresh Market.

Jim Trout, a 40-year veteran of the company, was elected president of the more than 120-year-old, family-owned grocer by the board of directors Friday.

Trout, 56, replaces Steve Albrecht, whose great-grandfather founded the Fred W. Albrecht Grocery store in Akron in 1891. Albrecht, 64, has been elected to a new position of vice president-strategy development.

Albrecht’s eldest son, 37-year-old Nick Albrecht, has been elected executive vice president to replace Trout.

Acme operates 15 stores in Summit, Stark, Portage and Cuyahoga counties and has more than 2,000 employees. The company is building a new store in Green.

In a news release, Steve Albrecht said: “After 42 years of service, it is time for me to pass the torch to a next generation. I am not retiring, but I am looking forward to taking a different role that will allow me time to look further over the horizon to develop long-term strategies for Acme Fresh Market.”

Trout “has developed excellent business judgment and a genuine talent for grocery retailing. Most important, Jim has a deep respect for our associates, customers, and our community. He is a great leader for Acme Fresh Market,” said Albrecht, who was not available for further comment.

In a telephone interview, Trout said he was honored.

“The confidence the Albrecht family is placing in me is one I take very, very deeply,” he said. “This company feeds families and we’re going to foster that and create highly satisfied customers.”

Trout is not the first non-family member to run the business. Fred C. Pockrandt headed the grocer from 1953-1959 when Fred I. Albrecht, Steve Albrecht’s father, took over.

Trout started in the business as a packer, said Katie Swartz, Acme director of marketing and a daughter of Steve Albrecht.

Trout “worked his way up the company holding many jobs in the organization,” she said.

Mentorship role

Trout said he sees his role as president not only to concentrate on the stores, retail execution, motivating employees and pleasing customers, but also as a mentor to his employees, including the four grown children of Steve Albrecht who are all involved in the Akron-based business and associated real estate company.

In addition to Nick Albrecht, Joe Albrecht is vice president of retail properties for Albrecht Inc. (a real estate development company). And besides Swartz, Jon Albrecht was recently promoted to director of center store sales for the grocer.

“The family remains committed to the business and we are all active operators of the business,” said Swartz.

Trout said he wants to be the “lead mentor” for the Albrechts and his employees.

“You can go from a 16-year-old packer to the president of Acme Fresh Market. There’s plenty of room for advancement,” said Trout, who grew up in the Akron area and graduated from Field High School. He did not attend college. “I stayed at Acme and worked hard,” he said.

Trout lives in Suffield Township with his wife of 38 years, Debbie. They have two adult children and three grandchildren.

Nick Albrecht has been working in the family business for almost 10 years, said Swartz. He was most recently vice president of perishables. Nick Albrecht was also not available for immediate further comment.

However, in the release, Steve Albrecht said, “Nick brings creative marketing energy and deep product knowledge to his new role as Executive Vice President. One reason Acme Fresh Market is unique in our marketplace is because we are a family-owned-and-operated business. Nick’s leadership role re-affirms Acme Fresh Market’s commitment to our customers and our community.”

Trout said he will work with Nick Albrecht on store planning and development since that’s among Trout’s passions, but Nick will especially be focusing on “driving the sales and profitability of this company with vendor management, advertising, what’s in the ads and what drives people to Acme.”

Full career

Steve Albrecht was 32 when he succeeded his father as president of then-Fred W. Albrecht Grocery Co. Before graduating from Firestone High School in 1967, he had already worked as a stockboy, packer and janitor in several stores.

In the statement, Albrecht said, “My years at Acme Fresh Market have been fulfilling especially because of the many wonderful, talented associates I have had the privilege of knowing and working with — through thick and thin. Acme Fresh Market associates are experts at feeding the families of our community and they are the smartest, most loyal, and dedicated grocery associates any company could wish to have. As I transition away from the multitude of details of the daily grocery business, my hope is that Acme Fresh Market associates will always be proud to say: ‘I work at Acme Fresh Market.’?”

Trout said in order to make sure employees knew who was now in charge, Albrecht moved his offices out of the Gilchrist Road headquarters.

Having Albrecht in the new position will allow “him to climb the tree and look across the forest and we’ll do our best to run this company and keep doing what we do,” Trout said.

Albrecht has joined the board of directors for the Food Marketing Institute, “allowing him to be in front of industry leaders,” said Trout.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisherABJ