In 1960, Bob Martin and Frank Bayley formed a partnership that started as Big John supermarkets throughout small Southern Illinois towns and eventually forking off into Kentucky and Tennessee. The first Huck’s store was opened in Grayville back in 1974. Today, M&B operates more than 120 convenience stores [with eyes on 200 within a decade] located in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. The Carmi Kiwanis Club welcomed Mark Bayley, and his children who now play a large role in the M&B enterprise, Brittany and Landon Thursday afternoon. Mark’s mother Mary was also in attendance.
The 2019 mantra of Huck’s stores, Brittany Bayley-Murray says, is “One Team, One Goal” and says the brand is unrolling what they call Huck’s 2.0. Bayley-Murray has risen through the ranks and now handles Marketing for M&B. She’s worked and learned from the store level and also served as a Buyer and Category Manager before heading up marketing. Huck’s stores will be getting away from the familiar red and yellow as it roles out a new color scheme as well as layout remodels of individual stores. She says research has shown them how to arrange the store to make it more appealing to women. “It’s always been fast and friendly”, Bayley-Murray says, “but we’re incorporating the word ‘fresh’ more and not just as a word in branding. We’re bringing in a host of new fresh food options. Food is really the future for Huck’s stores.” In addition, Huck’s stores are rebranding their “World Famous” fried chicken to “Cluck’s” and will continue to experiment with other new ways of doing business including self check outs and potentially utilizing the Amazon Go model. Three to four new stores open per year and some of the new stores are going from 4,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet.
Landon Bayley serves M&B as VP of Petroleum and also oversees the warehouse and logistics. He says having their very own dedicated warehouse [on Lexington Ave in Carmi] is one of the company’s competitive advantages giving them a leg up on speed to store for popular new products. The warehouse also allows M&B to purchase many products in bulk from salt to Gatorade and much more. The warehouse has on average $6.5 million dollars of inventory at any given time making Quality and Inventory Control systems that work of paramount importance.
In addition, Huck’s stores run 8 fuel tractor trailers with 16 drivers. Having and transporting their own fuel is another competitive advantage according to Bayley. He says they mainly get their fuel from one of the 4 main refineries in the area, but if prices dictate it, they have the ability to bring gas from Nashville, Tennessee for example. The convenience giant hauls more than half of it’s own fuel, usually around 70%, Bayley explains. And just like the company started with Big Johns grocery stores, Bayley says to not be surprised if M&B’s versatility shows itself again in the future. “Ya never know. You might stay at a Tom Sawyer Inn…or grab a bite at a Huckleberry Café someday”.
In March of 2001, the Martin and Bayley families sold 100% of the company to employees through an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan and now employees more than 1,500 people. In 2005, Huck’s founded the Karing for Kids Charitable Fund. Mark Bayley says they’re able to take about 1,300 underprivileged children throughout the communities Huck’s stores operate.
In Kiwanis Club business, Key Club chairman Doug Hays introduced and heaped praise on his Key Club members, especially the seniors he brought with him including Mayci Edwards and Carlee Hart who have served as Vice and President, respectively. He says officer elections for next year have been held and Key Clubbers will be directed in the 2019/2020 school year by Alex O’Daniel who will serve as President, Jacob Lamont as Vice President, Elizabeth Gwaltney as Treasurer and Elizabeth’s twin sister Olivia will serve as club secretary. Also, five Most Valuable Bulldogs were the guests of Mrs. Amy Dixon. She presented awards to Markus Trebuth, Jada Bare, Alex Hale, Serenity Murdach, and Jaxon Flowers. Finally, the Kiwanis Club made a formal donation of $360 to the White County 4H Kids Helping Kids organization.
Keith Hoskins won the 50/50 drawing opportunity, but failed to pull the orange golf ball. The $15 will rollover into next week’s drawing. The weekly Huck’s $10 gas card was won by member Art Saunders once he realized his ticket ended with a 3 and not a 9.
Coming up next week, May 16th, Carmi Kiwanis will award the annual Educator of the Year award.