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King of the country Featured

12:26pm EDT June 27, 2006
Gary Melvin and Bruce Speer know all about competition. The two men run Rural King, a general discount and farm supply retailer that competes directly with large retail powers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot as well as smaller mom-and-pop farm supply and hardware stores.

They use an innovative strategy in their site selection process that provides a competitive edge. The company seeks out vacated Wal-Mart, Target or Kmart locations and purchases the land and buildings at prices that are far below the cost to construct a new facility. They will also lease the locations if the owner is unwilling to sell, but with prices per square foot at the lower end of warehouse rates, which are generally less than what is commonly charged for retail operations.

Rural King passes on these overhead savings to customers in the form of lower prices, allowing it to compete with the likes of Wal-Mart on price, despite much lower purchasing leverage.

Melvin and Speer are also innovators in terms of loss prevention. The digital surveillance equipment installed in the past two years is on the cutting edge of available technology. This interconnected system of cameras at every store is centrally monitored at Rural King’s headquarters.

Not only has this reduced store losses from approximately 2 percent of sales to less than 0.4 percent in the past two years, but it has also dramatically curtailed fictitious slip and fall claims.

How to reach: Rural King, (217) 235-2248 or www.ruralking.com