A family affair
ALPENA — The mood at Neiman’s Family Market in Alpena Friday was one similar to a family reunion.
Hal and Jean Neiman’s children were all working at the store, as well as their 12 grandchildren. The aisles were also filled with customers waiting to wish the couple good luck in their retirement and take advantage of sales marking the occasion.
Friday was Hal Neiman’s last day in charge of day-to-day operations of the company, as his children have purchased it and will lead the four stores into the future.
Vice President of Human Resources Nate Neiman said that his father’s last day was emotional for him. He said the Alpena store is where everyone grew up and there were many memories made.
“It really is bittersweet. We’re so happy that he’s getting to retire, move on and be able to do other things with mom and the grandkids, but you also can’t help but tear up when we look at pictures of all of the fun times we had along the way,” he said. “He’s been doing this for 34 years, but he has had fun doing it.”
President/CEO Bryan Neiman said the siblings will be running the business from an office in Clarkston, which he said is centrally located to all of the stores. He said they will still have a large presence in Alpena and be visiting the store often and visiting with its customers. He said the store has been a large part of his life and he is proud of what his father and mother built together.
“It has been 34 years of incredibly hard work. Tons of fun and lots of family time, it is amazing,” he said. “He’s been very successful with his business, but also he has been very successful with the family he has built.”
Hal Neiman’s daughter Amy Rogers reality hasn’t hit yet that her father isn’t going to be playing the large role he had in the company. She said it is reassuring that he will still be available to offer advice and answer questions. Despite that, she said the store is going to seem different.
“It doesn’t feel real and I can’t imagine a day I come to the store and he’s not here,” she said. “We have plans in place, he has taught us what we need to know, he is also still going to be around to guide us.”
Jean Neiman said she is extremely proud of her husband for what he had built and looks forward to witnessing the same success her children will share.
“Hal has worked really hard to make this a success and it is exciting to see the kids come on board and want to be a part of it,” she said. “They all had the chance to leave and do something else. They didn’t need to come to work here and to see them want to take over and do things how we’ve done them is very exciting to us.”
Nate Neiman said there may be some slight changes to the store in the future. He said his father was always making tweaks and adding new and exciting services and products, which led to success. Nieman said there are three things that will never change however, the companies dedication to the community, employees and customers. He said there are plans to get the grandchildren more involved.
“We were all raised in Alpena and we plan on handing this off to our kids as the next generation,” he said. “We intend to be a staple in this community for many years. We still refer to Alpena as the mothership because this is where we all came from.”
Theresa Cooper is the store’s director and will oversee operations day-to-day in Alpena. She said over the last five years she has learned a lot from Hal, Jean and the three children. Cooper said she is excited to continue the traditions in place and maintaining the reputation the store has.
“Hal has been a man of his word, with a great amount of integrity,” Cooper said. “He has showed me the importance of community connection and how important it is in business.”
While at the store Friday, Hal Neiman was caught up in the excitement and split his time among his grandchildren, employees and the many customers who stopped to congratulate him and thank him for his commitment to Alpena.
He said the success of the stores would not have been possible without his wife and children. Neiman said without the dedicated and hardworking employees the company would also not have done as well as it has. He said most of all he is thankful for the support of the people who have supported the store and his family for the last three and a half decades.
“We have been so fortunate with the customer support that we are able to give back to the community,” he said. “The opportunity to support folks and do something special for the people has been the most rewarding thing for me. All of this never would have happened without my wife standing with me. I have been blessed to have her at my side and the staff who have always went the extra mile to provide the best customer service possible.”
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.