Smooth Transision - Great team at Blattner’s makes a good thing better
By Mark Sherry

The management team at Blattner’s Piggly Wiggly in New Holstein is comprised of (front, from left) Bonnie Kautzer, deli/bakery manager; Jean Blattner, owner; and Amy Schweitzer, customer service manager; and (back) Greg Kautzer, meat manager; John Blattner, owner; Jake Blattner, owner; Tom Boldt, grocery manager; Marcus Rumpff, assistant customer service manager; and Cliff Diefenthaler, produce manager.

Mark Sherry photo

Now more than a year into ownership of New Holstein’s Piggly Wiggly store, the Blattner family said they are very pleased with how smooth the transition has gone.

The Blattners retained almost the entire staff which had been working for the Stellpflugs in December 2012 when they purchased the store, and 15 months later those same key department managers continue to serve their customers as they have for years.

“We have a really great team here,” said Jake Blattner, who manages the store. “They’ve made the transition as smooth and seamless as possible. The community has been very welcoming. People stop me in the store all the time and chat about the store and community.”

He added, “One thing that surprised me is how friendly people are here. It is a very friendly place to live, work and do business.”

Come in through either entrance

The Blattners have made some changes to the store, all with customer convenience and efficiency of operations in mind. It seems as though word has not yet spread about one of those seemingly minor changes—customers are now welcome to enter the store through either entrance. In the past everyone had to enter through the north entrance, but soon after taking ownership the Blattners recognized that it would be more convenient for shoppers to come in either entrance— especially on cold or rainy days. Just outside the south entrance they also have created several 15-minute parking spaces for people who need to run in for just a couple items.

The most recent change at Blattner’s Piggly Wiggly has been the return of the receipt system of making donations to area churches and organizations. Blattner’s will donate a percentage of receipts put into the slots of a wooden box located near the service desk. Blattner’s employees will tabulate the totals rather than each organization having to do it. All the slots on the box have been filled already, which speaks to how popular the program is.

In addition to the receipt program, Blattner’s will continue another donation program it started—the change donation boxes located at the checkouts. Different organizations are selected on a rotating basis to receive the donated spare change from customers.

Continuing on the theme of being a good corporate citizen in New Holstein, Blattner’s Piggly Wiggly recently donated new warm-up uniforms for the varsity girls basketball team at New Holstein High School. In addition, John Blattner said he is working with JB Signs of New Holstein to produce and donate insulated mugs which the New Holstein Sports Booster Club will then sell as a fundraiser.

“We want to support the community that supports us,” said John Blattner, Jake’s father. “We’re committed to the community and giving back.”

Supporting the community is one of the three basic tenets the Blattner family has in operation of its stores in New Holstein and Sheboygan Falls. The other two are having a clean store and offering quality products.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on operating a clean store,” said John Blattner, Jake’s father. He said they have gone so far in the past as to printing the positive report of the state health inspector in the newspaper. “You can look at our health inspection report anytime,” John said.

As for the quality of products it sells, the Blattners point to the made-from-scratch soups, sub sandwiches and many other products sold daily from its always-busy deli and bakery. John joked that his wife Jean is one of their “toughest customers,” but she is a regular customer of the New Holstein deli.

Jake added, “We always tell our employees ‘if you wouldn’t buy it yourself, then why would you put it on the shelf?’ We’ll stand by any of our products. If you bring back any product you’re not happy with, we’ll give you a replacement or your money back.”

Adding to list of services

In trying to better serve its customers and make operations more efficient, the Blattners also opened up some of the aisle spaces and added a catering van for the many catering functions handled by the deli. What Blattner’s Piggly Wiggly did not change are any of the familiar and welcome services of the local grocery store, such as carrying out groceries for customers.

Like any business, more changes are likely in the future as the desires and shopping patterns of customers change. At its Sheboygan Falls store, the Blattners are adding a smokehouse to provide smoked pork, beef brisket, turkey and other meats available from both the hot and cold cases. If that goes over well, look for one of the real wood, indoor smokehouses to be added to the New Holstein deli.

It is all part of serving their customers as best they can. To that end, the Blattners said they love to hear from their customers—both the good and the bad. “I take every comment and criticism and contemplate it,” Jake said. “Tell us how we can get better.” John added, “We will listen and react.”

John added, “Money is not our God. We are here for the community and to grow. We’re not here just to make a buck. We care about what you think. We want you to be happy.”

He added, “We’re very happy to be here and happy to serve the community.”