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There are new owners of the 13 Buehler's Fresh Foods supermarkets in Northeast Ohio. And if you've shopped at the stores, you may have seen some of them.

Wooster-based E&H Family Group, the parent company of Buehler's, on Wednesday, Oct. 18, announced the sale of its 13 supermarkets to employees in the form of an employee stock ownership plan. The company said in a news release that "all 2,100 employees will be retained in the transition," and "eligible employees will become owners."

Specific financial terms were not disclosed. All 13 stores will remain open and will have the same hours of operation.

"This was a decision we did not take lightly," said Dan Buehler, president & COO of E&H Family Group, in a statement.

"Our generation of Buehlers are reaching retirement age, and we think this a better option than selling the business to outsider," he said. "We want these supermarkets to be here serving customers and providing good jobs well into the future. There's no one better qualified than our own employees to carry on that mission. We believe that the transition to an ESOP is a winning solution for the Buehler family, our employees and the communities we serve."

The ESOP will be operated by a new corporate entity, called Buehler's Fresh Foods. It will be led by what the company in the news release characterized as "an experienced team of Buehler's veterans," including Dan Shanahan, Buehler's Fresh Foods president and COO since 2011; Rick Lowe, vice president of human resources of E&H Family Group since 1977; and Mike Davidson, vice president of store operations since 2015.

Shanahan will be president and CEO of the new company, while Lowe will be executive vice president and chief administrative officer, and Davidson will be executive vice president of store operations.

E&H Family Group, which is owned by the Buehler family of Wooster, also operates 22 hardware stores in Ohio under the E&H Ace Hardware name. The sale "has no impact on the E&H Hardware Group, which will continue operating under Buehler family ownership," according to the release.

The first Buehler's Fresh Foods grocery store was opened in 1929 by E.L. (Ed) Buehler and his wife, Helen, in New Philadelphia. The Buehler family moved the business to Wooster in 1932. Four generations of Buehler family members have worked at the business.

The 13 stores are in the following locations: Ashland, Canton, Coshocton, Dover, Massillon, Medina (two stores), New Philadelphia, Orrville, Portage Lakes, Wadsworth and Wooster (also two stores).


As seen in Crane's Cleveland.