Frederik [Fred] Meijer is inextricably tied to his famous entrepreneurial father Hendrick Meijer, the founder of the Midwestern retailing giant known by the Meijer name. Prior to Hendrick's death in 1964, Fred had already taking over the responsibility of running the growing retailing operation. Since Fred had worked with his father in the family's retailing business since the opening of their first store in 1934, he was obviously the most logical person to take over the reins of the business.
It is probably safe to assume that Fred was as involved in Meijer's decision to convert to super center stores in 1962 as his father was. In other words Fred can be given credit for the design and development of their first super center store, and to the eventual rapid growth of their super center chain. The super center concept, first initiated in the United States by the Meijers was copied extensively by Walmart, Target and other retailing chains.
Following Fred's take over of the family operation, the growth of Meijer has been phenomenal for a family business. This growth took place during Fred's management of the business since his father's death. Meijer first ventured out of the State of Michigan in the late 1960's focusing on the State of Ohio. Meijer experimented for a while in the Toledo, Ohio area, but did not really become successful in Ohio until the 1980's, when Meijer opened its first super center store in Columbus, Ohio. The new Columbus super center store immediately captured 20 percent of the market. Meijer followed up by opening a super center store in Dayton, Ohio which also was very successful.
In 1994 Meijer entered the Indiana market, opening 16 super center stores in two years. In 1995 Meijer entered the Illinois market by opening its first super center store there. In 1996 Meijer entered the southern Ohio area by opening five super center stores in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area. The fifth State, Kentucky, was added in 1998 when Meijer opened two super center stores in Louisville, Kentucky. The following year, in 1999, Meijer entered the greater Chicago, Illinois area by opening its first super center store there.
In 1990, Fred's sons, Hank and Doug, became active in the upper management of the firm through their appointment as co-chairmen of the Meijer firm. Fred continued his active involvement with the firm as chairman of the executive committee. Mark Meijer, Fred's youngest son is a presiddent in the firm and is a member of the board of directors.
Meijer continues to compete fiercely with Walmart in the markets served by Meijer. Evidence of being able to compete with Walmart can be seen by Meijer's reasonable success as shown by their continuing expansion of Meijer's retailing operations. In 2005, Meijer opened another 10 new super center stores, bringing the total super center stores to about 170. Since then it has continued its expansion and as of 2013 had over 2,000 stores in operation.
Fred Meijer has been a minor philanthropist in the Grand Rapids area in comparison with his fellow Dutch-American compatriots, Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos. However, the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park are evidence that he has spread some of his wealth around the Grand Rapids area. Fred has also donated land for a Grand Valley State University[GVSU] campus in Holland, Michigan, as well as for the establishment of GVSU's public television station which broadcasts from the Meijer Public Broadcast Center on the GVSU campus.
In 2006, Fred Meijer provided a major gift to Calvin College of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to establish the Frederick Meijer Chair in Dutch Language and Culture. The first holder of the Chair will be Professor Henk Aay, who was born in the Netherlands and immigrated to Canada with his parents at age 13. Through the Chair, Calvin College will embark on a thorough and scholarly exploration of the Netherlands, a country which today is seen as a model of social and economic stability. The Dutch are an innovative and impressive force in the realms of art, technology, water and land engineering and social policy. Through this gift, Frederick Meijer becomes a major contributor to the field of Netherlandic studies.
Frederik Meijer lived a long life. He was born in 1919, and in 2011 he passed away. He remained active until his death. He left behind a major super center chain with about 190 super centers throughout the midwest. At the time of his death Forbes Billionaire Survey published in March 2012, estimated his wealth at close to 5 billion dollars. The management in the meanwhile remained in the family. His three sons Hank, Doug and Mark Meijer continued in the management of the Meijer corporation.
Hank Meijer, "Thrifty Years: The Life of Hendrik Meijer", Eerdmans, 1984
"Michigan Today", http://www.umich.edu/o3/Sum03/meijer.ht
Larry Ten Harmsel and Bill Smith, "Fred Meijer: Stories of his Life", Eerdmans, 2009
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