Earl Redner, founder of Redner’s Markets, passed away peacefully April 5, 2017, in Lancaster, County, PA
Born in Bridgewater, VA, on September 19, 1925, to the late William & Gladys Redner, Earl began his career in the food industry in 1940 as a furnace stoker and potato bagger with the Grand Union Tea Company. He spent the next 29 years working for Grand Union in various positions including assistant store manager, district sales manager, division grocery sales manager, and superintendent of stores in Washington, DC.
He was the youngest Grand Union employee to hold the title of manager, district manager and store superintendent with Grand Union until his departure in 1970. During his 20 years of leadership with Redner’s, he set a standard for customer service and placed an emphasis on advanced technologies as an independently owned, industry leader in groceries.
Earl, known to be an early innovator with employee owned stock option companies and a risk taker in food retailing, founded the Redner’s Markets in Leesport, PA, in 1970 with his late wife, Mary. Under his
leadership, Redner’s successfully changed the grocery marketplace by successfully transitioning a traditional grocery operation to that of a warehouse market sales and purchasing format, which was years ahead of its time. Today, Redner’s marks over 53 grocery and convenience stores located throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Redner’s has annually ranked in the top five (total sales) of independently owned (small chain) grocers in the United States.
He served as chairman of PFMA, and on the board of the National Grocers Association. Earl, along with his late wife Mary, was honored in 1998 with the Heart of the Industry Award by the Grocery Manufacturers of Central Pennsylvania and in 2011, recognized as Person of the Year by Association of Manufacturer Representatives and the Mid-Atlantic Foods Trades Organization.
A humble leader, Earl will long be remembered for his notebook that he carried with him throughout each workday. Admired by all at Redner’s Earl was affectionately known as “The Chief,” his presence will greatly missed in the family business.
Earl was also active as a community booster and philanthropist. He had been a longtime member of the Shillington Rotary Club. He was an active member in the Church of the Brethren of Wyomissing, PA, where he served as a deacon.
“My father was a role model for not only myself and our family but also the food industry. He lived a long, successful life and made a tremendous difference in the community,” said Richard Redner, chairman, CEO and president of Redner’s Markets. “I’m thankful he was able to see his dream and company become more successful than he ever imagined. His spirit and enthusiasm remained high and he continued to attend board meetings, visit stores and would enjoy speaking with our employee-owners often.”
He is survived by his wife, Karen of Lancaster, son Richard husband to Elaine of Sinking Spring, PA; daughter Chere Kelley of Charleston, SC six grandchildren: Ryan Redner, Stacy Hopp, Gary M. Redner, Casey Redner, Nicole Hoyt, and Alexis Foreman; 14 great-grandchildren; and sister Ruth Weyant. He was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Mary G. Redner; son, Gary W. Redner; brothers Raymond, Frank, Charles; and sister June.