What Makes Stewart's Different


Stewart's Employees

Stewart’s is a privately held company; nearly 40 percent is owned by our employees which is crucial to our growth and profitability. The Dake family believes in sharing ownership with the people who have helped build our business and feel that their ownership is worth more today because of it. Being privately held allows us to make our own rational, long-term decisions. Stewart’s employees enjoy a high level of involvement with long-term security.

Employee picking items for shipping Stewart’s employees own nearly 40 percent of the company through Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), known as “Profit Sharing.” That’s why our employees are called “Partners.” Unlike a 401K, the plan is 100% company paid. You’re automatically enrolled if you are at least 19 years old and after working 500 hours a quarter or 1,000 hours a year, whichever occurs first. Employees will be partially vested in their balance until they reach 100% in six plan years. The balance should equal about a year’s pay after six years in the plan.

Get information on “Profit Sharing”, as well as medical insurance, death benefits and paid vacation offered at Stewart’s.

Small is Nicer

Store employee serving customer ice cream

Stewart’s may appear to be a large company but we are really 300+ small shops and departments with that small business feel. The atmosphere is comfortable and friendly for everyone which allows our employees to get to know their customers. In our fast-paced business we encourage our employees to interact openly and efficiently, and to SHARE. We work in a culture where “everybody knows” and this openness gives our employees the control to grow their careers for personal satisfaction as well as corporate success. We provide them with the support they need to serve customers and to build a business.

Vertical Integration

Collage, Cows, Milk Truck, Store, Employees and Kids
Stewart's Shop Collage, Cows, Milk, Truck, Store, Employees and Kids

Much of our success comes from the integration of our manufacturing, distribution, retail, and development operations. We make and/or distribute 3/4s of what we sell in our shops. Vertical integration allows us to take out the middle man and enables Stewart’s to offer products at a high quality and at a low cost for our customers.

Our own Stewart’s tankers pick up milk from local farms to deliver to our dairy daily, where it is pasteurized and packaged. We also make and package ice cream, refresher drinks and juices. We even use our own blow mold equipment to make gallon, half gallon and refresher bottles. The Stewart’s warehouse also has a kitchen where we make more than one million pounds of chili, soups, chicken and rice, macaroni and cheese, and more, each year. Making it ourselves means we can maintain the fresh flavors our customers enjoy. We also have over 100 items manufactured by the best suppliers, including bread, soda, chips, and candy, which we distribute ourselves to save the customer money. We are also one of the few distribution centers with its own warehouse beer permit so we can handle some of the beer we sell in our shops.

Having enough products to sell in our shops is a key to our success. We fill all shop orders with over 99% precision. Our partners wear headsets and are relayed the needs of each individual shop through an automated system. The items are placed in reusable tote. We call this process single picking, which means a shop does not have to receive large quantities of products to stay in stock. We keep our stores small enough to only need a few items at a time, not an entire case. It keeps inventory under control as well as the freshness of the product.

Each tote is labeled with the shop and route numbers, and shipped out on our own trucks. We distribute within a 150 mile radius of our plant and warehouse, to maintain quality and freshness. Stewart’s utilizes a fleet of approximately 70 vehicles that are used to deliver product, gas and pickup milk from local farms. Each year, our delivery drivers travel over 3 million miles.

Our trucks are not limited to shipping items out. We also take them in. There is a repair shop at the warehouse, where we are able to fix our shop equipment and ship it back to the shops quickly. This includes everything from coffee makers to our hot dog steamers and our cash registers. We also have a shop services department to handle issues with our gas pumps, plumbing fixtures, and even our signs and display pieces. Any cardboard packaging is also returned back to the plant to save on trash bills and allows us to be more environmentally friendly.

In 2013, about 2,400 solar panels were installed atop the roof of the manufacturing and distribution center. The project is projected to save nearly $40,000 a year in energy costs at the plant, with an expected payback period of 5.6 years.

The daily output of the solar project can be seen here (requires Adobe Flash).

The entire plant, distribution, and warehouse facility provides our shops with the support and services they need to give our customers the best service and the freshest, high quality products at a great value. Watch a video to learn more about the Story of Stewart’s Shops here.

Tour of the Plant

Hover (or tap on mobile device) to read the description.

Dairy Plant