It’s easy to take for granted the few minutes it takes to find a can of tomatoes among the tens of thousands of items in a grocery store, but it hasn’t always been so easy. In fact, grocery stores work hard to be easy to navigate, and they haven’t always been successful at this.
One company that has contributed to better design is CIP Retail.
“Store design sets the stage for the entire shopping experience,” says Tom Richardson, design consultant at CIP. “Creating a pleasing environment with clearly identified departments and products as well as impactful graphics makes for a happy shopper and a profitable store chain.”
Based in Fairfield, Ohio, CIP was one of the first companies in the nation to have this specialization.
Founders, Tom and Kathy Huff first came up with idea for CIP in the late 1970s while Tom was working for an interior fixture fabricator in Ohio. While installing interior fixtures in grocery stores, he noticed that although these stores were spending money on well-designed fixtures, the spaces didn’t adhere to interior store design or organizational practices. The Huffs started CIP with the aim of fixing this—injecting design in a type of store that, up until that point, had been overlooked.
The built elements of retail
Over the years, the family company has evolved to do virtually everything a supermarket needs to improve its appearance and stay organized. CIP first accomplished this through a comprehensive design of each retail space, taking into account flooring, lighting, interior design, traffic flow and much more.
When it’s time to retrofit a store, or outfit one from scratch, CIP builds the pieces itself. It manufactures décor that includes aisle directories, digitally printed graphic wall vinyl, department signs and dimensional lettering. The company also fabricates custom millwork, including cash wraps, slat shelves, bins and pharmacy cabinetry. On request, it can even build out specialty departments, like meat counters, to have their own facades. For example, one retailer tasked them to replicate a roadside fisherman’s shack with lobster traps, buoys and fisherman’s nets to create an authentic New England seafood shop within a traditional supermarket.
CIP’s clients range from independent, single store operations to corporations that include Jewel Osco, Sprouts Farmers Market, Kroger, Rite Aid, Strack&VanTil and Wegmans. The company has a vast international portfolio with projects in Latin America, the Middle East, Russia and Europe. CIP is able to deliver its products to all parts of the United States and abroad through the company’s installation services.
The company recently partnered with Publix Super Markets, one of the fastest-growing employee owned supermarkets in the United States, to supply over 200 stores annually with a new interior store design and décor package. These store designs include remodels as well as new construction projects.
Superior quality and installation
CIP has an advantage over competitors because it offers more comprehensive services and has been around longer—in short, it’s proven itself time and again.
For instance, a customer can use CIP Retail to complete an entire project rather than relying on separate contractors for different aspects of a remodeling or building. Because the company can develop, fabricate and install virtually everything a store needs, common issues with communication and quality and delivery basically disappear, Richardson says.
“Our high level of store design, superior quality of product and seamless installs are what sets us apart from our competition,” he says. “We make sure we do whatever it takes to make the job complete.”
Richardson says the company is also proud of its dedicated team of experienced professionals and that they have been a driving force behind the company’s continued growth.
CIP recently added 20,000 square feet of manufacturing space to its facility in Fairfield, Ohio, in large part because of the increased volume of work and to make space for new machinery and storage. Richardson says that CIP Retail is always investing in the company by enhancing equipment and developing new systems that create an environment of efficiency.
Even as the company has grown, CIP has always remained a family-run business. Kathy and Tom Huff are part of the daily operations at the company and their three sons are also part of the team as a director of design and design consultants. Richardson says this has created a culture where the entire staff is committed to executing every project with the highest of standards.
CIP is looking forward to continued growth in all areas of retail, says Richardson. “I believe our successful business model and our partnership with a diverse set of clients provides CIP Retail with the keys to a successful future.”
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