Harvard and Floy Harp founded Harps in 1930. They started the first store with $500 in cash that Harvard had saved while working in the citrus industry in California. The first store was Harps Cash Grocery and was located in Springdale, AR. Over the next 34 years they remodeled, expanded, and moved to bigger buildings as their business continued to grow.
By the early 1950's, Harvard and Floy's oldest son, Don, had joined them in the business. In 1964 Harps became a small chain when the second store was opened in North Springdale.
By the mid 1960's, Don's brothers, Gerald and Reland, were also involved in managing the Company. Don became CEO and President in 1968 at the death of his father and continued to guide Harps until 1994. Gerald Harp assumed the duties of CEO and President in 1995 when the Company purchased Don's stock, and at the same time, purchased a ten-store chain. This transaction significantly increased the leverage of Harps and the Company focused on driving down the debt. Roger Collins was named CEO in 2000. After stepping down as CEO in 2016, he remains as Chairman.
In 2001, the Company did a leveraged buy-out with the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) purchasing outstanding stock from the family and management. Once again the leverage of the Company increased substantially. After spending the next four years reducing debt, Harps began rapid growth through acquisition and new store construction. Kim Eskew was named President in 2008 and CEO in 2016. Since becoming employee-owned, employees have seen amazing growth in their stock. The stock price increased from $28 per share in 2001 to $346.90 per share at the end of fiscal 2016, a more than twelve-fold increase. Employees who have been with Harps since 2001 have built significant values in Harps for retirement. Harps is the largest employee-owned company headquartered in Arkansas and the 30th largest in the United States.
With 86 stores in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, Harps has aggressive growth plans, including adding stores in Kansas in 2016. The Company's strategy has been to differentiate itself from the competition based on quality, service, and freshness at competitive prices. The Company promotes no solution/no sodium added fresh beef, pork and chicken. With customized cakes, Martha Harp fried chicken, donuts and rolls, the Harps name signifies quality. Combining that image with employee-owned service, Harps has become one of the grocery industry's most recognized independent chains and is a national success story for grocery companies competing against Wal-Mart.
Our Executive Committee
Roger Collins, Chairman
Mr. Collins grew up in Odessa in West Texas and is a graduate of Rice University with an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and practiced as a CPA in public accounting for four years.
Mr. Collins started with Harps in 1986 as the Vice President of Finance and CFO. He was promoted to Executive Vice President in 1995 and CEO in 2000. Collins stepped down as CEO in 2016 but remains as Chairman. He has served on both the boards and executive committees of the National Cooperative Bank, the National Grocers Association (NGA), and Associated Wholesale Grocers. In 2015, Collins was awarded the Tom Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award by NGA. He also serves on the boards of the Endeavor Foundation, Ozark Guidance Center, and Fellowship Bible Church.
Kim Eskew, President & CEO
Mr. Eskew joined Harps as a student checker in 1977 in Springdale, Arkansas, while attending the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. After completing his BS degree in Administrative Management in 1980, he held the positions of Grocery Manager, Store Manager, District Manager, Director of Merchandising and Advertising, Vice President of Marketing and Executive Vice President, President, and now CEO. Kim currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Grocers Association, Oklahoma Grocers Association, the Missouri Grocers Association, the Department of Research and Education of the National Grocers Association and Harris Baking Company, a private label bakery in Rogers, Arkansas. Kim and his wife Karen live in Springdale and are members of Cross Church Springdale.
Jim Antz, Vice President of Finance & Administration, CFO
Mr. Antz started with Harps in April 1987 as MIS Director. He was promoted to Vice President of Information Systems in 1998 and to Vice President of Finance and Administration in 2000. He has an MBA degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a BSE from the University of Pennsylvania. Jim serves on the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Grocers, Retail Merchants Association and Samaritan Community Center. Jim lives in Springdale with wife, Margaret, and has two sons. He attends Fellowship Bible Church in Rogers.
Frank Ray, Vice President of Human Resources
One of Frank's top priorities is developing potential leaders for store management. He graduated from Arkansas Tech University in 1984, joined Harps as a manager trainee in September of that year and has enjoyed numerous positions in route to his current role. ÊFrank is currently a Board member for the Springdale Public Schools Education Foundation, the Springdale Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Springdale Rotary Club. ÊHe resides in Springdale with his wife, Timi, and their three children.
J. Max Van Hoose, Vice President of Store Planning
J. Max is a Northwest Arkansas native and graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1991 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. After spending 6 years with Hallmark Greeting Cards and earning his MBA at the University of Kansas, J. Max returned to Arkansas in 1997 to join Harps Food Stores as Director of Construction and Equipment. J.Max has served as President of the Springdale Rotary Club, Chairman of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a member of the University of Arkansas's Academy of Industrial Engineers. He lives in Springdale with his wife Kelley and their two daughters, and attends Fellowship Bible Church in Rogers.
Mike Thurow, Vice President of Store Systems
Mike graduated with a BA from the University of Illinois in 1978, and came to Fayetteville in 1979. He started to work at the Harps General Office in 1983 as Scanning Specialist. He was later promoted to Director of Store Systems, and then to Vice President of Store Systems. Outside of Harps, Mike is involved with Rogers Little Theater, and has also served on the board of Hope Cancer Resources, a Northwest Arkansas non-profit organization whose mission is to provide service and assistance to local cancer patients.