Forbes recently announced their list of the largest privately-held companies. As expected, there were a number from here in Michigan: Amway, Gordon Foods, and Guardian to name a few. But I was struck by the name that topped the list: Meijer Inc. What struck me was not that they were one of the largest firms in Michigan – they’ve been around for a long time and their growth and presence has been well documented – but what struck me was the scale of their revenues ($14.63 billion) and how rarely I have thought of the company in those terms. There are a number of other companies that are more top of mind for me as “large companies” in the area like Steelcase, Stryker, Perrigo and others (not all private). Not to diminish these firms’ successes, but they are a fraction of Meijer’s revenues.
Perhaps it’s a matter of familiarity. As a West Michigan native, Meijer stores have simply always been there. A little like a good friend from high school who through his career advances to a senior corporate position – but I might still think of him as the guy I knew in high school, except that now he happens wear a suit.
Or, perhaps it’s that while Meijer has grown to become a very large corporate citizen, they have done so in a geographically diverse way so it’s been less visible., unlike a large corporation whose majority of staff and presence may be in single headquarters location. Although they have a large headquarters in Walker, MI Meijer revenues come from hundreds of retail locations throughout the Midwest. And Meijer has executed their growth without seeming to seek the headlines as they went about it, at least from my perception. This is not unusual for a West Michigan business: Quietly doing what they do, as best as they know how.
Congratulations Meijer for the Forbes recognition and thank you for being a valuable member of the West Michigan business community!