Nick Albrecht’s great-great grandfather, who founded what is now called Acme Fresh Market more than 100 years ago, likely never imagined beer taps in some of his groceries and selling more than a dozen flavors of sparkling water, let alone bottled water.
On Friday, Albrecht, 42, was named president of Greater Akron’s hometown grocery, continuing the tradition begun by Acme founder Frederick Wilhelm Albrecht in 1891. He succeeds Jim Trout, whom the board elected to the new position of vice president of special projects.
Nick Albrecht, who has been with Acme for 15 years, said he and the 16-store company’s 2,300 employees are up to the challenge of satisfying customers in the highly competitive grocery industry.
"We're hard workers," he said of relatives and employees. "That's the key to our family business."
He talked about the company this week as he stood inside the Acme in Green, the company's newest store, which opened in 2014. The store in Heritage Crossings off Massillon Road goes head to head with a Market District, run by Acme's primary rival, Giant Eagle.
Acme’s board of directors elected Albrecht to the top post Friday. He previously served as executive vice president.
Albrecht, the fifth generation to lead the company, joined Acme when he was 27, after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and serving in the U.S. Army for five years. He was an Army Ranger, served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, rose to the rank of captain and served in the Iraq War.
In his early years at Acme, he attended law school at night at the University of Akron, graduating with honors in 2008.
Trout assigned him to various stores, allowing Albrecht to gain a variety of experiences. He found he enjoyed grocery retailing.
"I certainly like selling stuff. I found that passion quickly," Albrecht said."There's a lot of satisfaction when Acme creates a new item [such as a new marinated meat offering in the meat case] or finds a new item, and then you can position it in the store, promote it and then check the sales."
Before serving as executive vice president, Albrecht served as vice president, perishables. Previously, he was manager of special projects.
“Nick has a deep respect for our associates, customers, and our community,” Trout said in a news release.
Trout, who has been with Acme for 45 years, became president in 2014, succeeding Nick Albrecht's father, Steve Albrecht. Steve Albrecht remains chairman of the board.
Nick Albrecht said his mission is to continue to make Acme the “easiest place to shop,” while offering the “best deals” and new products and categories.
Already, he said, Acme prides itself on such amenities as wide parking spaces, wide grocery aisles and big lobbies filled with special offers — all aimed at making shopping easy.
Later this year, Acme plans to launch an app to make it easier for customers to order groceries on their phones. Currently, customers use the orderacme.com website for online ordering.
Earlier this year, the company introduced "Family Pack Savings," featuring discounts on large-volume items, such as 5 pounds of ground beef or a package of 282 paper plates.
"A family can come in here and take care of its shopping needs and load up that pantry quickly," Albrecht said.
Is this a nod to competition from warehouse stores such as Costco?
"It's a response to the consumer," Albrecht said. "The consumer is looking for easiness."
Acme's quest for popular items doesn't always mean new-to-the-market products.
For example, the company's stores now all boast shelves of individually packaged candies, including a host of retro/novelty candies such as Lemonheads, Red Hots, wax lips and candy necklaces.
"This is candy you will remember ... This really invigorated the candy category," Albrecht said, surveying the Green store's candy section.
"Splashes of personality and excitement," he added, "throughout the store."
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.