YORK, Pa. -- Rutter's Farm Stores will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year by reflecting on the past and planning for the future. Specifically, the convenience-store chain will host a year filled with giveaways and promotions and will also change its name.
The first Rutter’s Farm Store opened in 1968. This year, the chain will drop the “Farm Stores” from its trade name.
“We have gone to market in our stores as simply Rutter’s for the past decade. And as we look to the future, we wanted the focus to be on our brand and all the ways we engage across physical and virtual channels,” said Derek Gaskins, Rutter’s chief customer officer. “Our stores’ 50th anniversary created a great opportunity to formally change our branding to align with customers' perceptions of our broad brand offers.”
Rutter’s ranked No. 92 in CSP’s2017 Top 202 list of largest c-store chains in the United States.
Throughout the year, Rutter’s will be celebrating the 50th anniversary with employees, customers and all the communities that the stores serve. Giveaways, special prizes, promotions and celebrations will tie into the Rutter’s #SummerofFreedom Sweepstakes.
Here are the details …
The Rutter family’s history and agricultural heritage date back more than 300 years to Germany. Emigrating to America in 1683, the family settled in Germantown, Pa., near Philadelphia, migrating to Lancaster County and then York County.
The dairy business, Crystal Spring Dairy, began in 1921, selling milk door to door by horse-drawn carriage.
In 1933, the company changed its name (the first of several times) to Rutter Brothers Dairy, opening its first ice cream parlor in 1938.
In 1967, the company formed the CHR Corp. (for the Crist, Hartman and Rutter families), which opened its first Rutter’s Farm Stores convenience store in York, Pa., in February 1968 as a retail outlet for the dairy products.
Rutter’s is the oldest vertically integrated food company in the country, it said. Now under the 10th generation of family leadership, privately owned Rutter's operates 69 c-stores throughout central Pennsylvania, a real-estate company, a family farm and a beverage company serving the mid-Atlantic region. Scott Hartman is president and CEO, Todd Rutter is president of Rutter's Beverage company, and Tim Rutter is president of M&G Realty.
Why the name change?
Rutter's hasn't used "Farm Stores" as part of its store branding for about a decade, the company said.
"In today’s omnichannel world, we want the focus to be on our brand, Rutter’s, and all the businesses we now span," company spokesperson Kirsten Stanley told CSP Daily News. "Our farm heritage will never go away. It is strong support for our fresh, high-quality foods and beverages. By dropping the 'Farm Stores' from our trade name, it helps us simplify our name and purpose to our customers.
"It also eliminates the confusion of people thinking we are a rural farm-supply store as we grow into new markets. We are still here to provide our customers with the utmost convenience we possibly can. We still celebrate our agricultural heritage by the year 1747, our dairy by the year 1921 and our convenience stores by the year 1968."
"It has been another great year for everyone at Rutter's," said Hartman, Rutter's CEO and president. “We opened three new stores and remodeled 20 stores.”
The three new stores—all in Pennsylvania—are located in Annville, which opened in May; Duncansville, which opened in June; and St. Thomas, which opened in December.
Rutter’s said it has plans to grow into two more states, Maryland and West Virginia, in 2018.
“With plans to double the size of our office in February, build nine new stores and complete 38 store remodels including beer caves, flex fuels and gaming rooms, we look forward to another fantastic and busy year in 2018," he said.
Rutter's is in the midst of expanding its corporate office, doubling the size to create more opportunities for growth into 2018. New stores and remodels, combined with the change in Pennsylvania laws to allow the sale of wine and beer, have driven the third expansion of the Rutter’s office this decade, the company said.
In August 2017, Rutter’s announced that it had started construction to expand and double the size of its office to 23,000 square feet. The Rutter’s office campus is located on a 23-acre farm that is adjacent to the family farm on the Susquehanna Trail in York. The farm dates back to 1747.
The building addition will create room for 50 more office team members. The corporate-office expansion project features additional space for a technology lab, more team-recruiting space and a growing architectural and engineering department. Total cost of the expansion project will be more than $2 million, the company said.
Rutter's also made $370,000 in recent charitable donations to bring the company’s 2017 total to more than $715,000 given to central Pennsylvania charities.
“We enjoy supporting charities and organizations dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children and customers in the communities we serve,” Hartman said.
Some of the charities Rutter's supported in 2017 are:
Crispus Attucks, $50,000
YMCA of York County, $42,800
Office Secret Santa (employees from Rutter's donated to community organizations of their choice), $29,000
Junior Achievement, $28,300
Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, $27,200
Leg Up Farm, $25,900 (Pictured: Kirsten Stanley, Rutter’s marketing coordinator; Tom O’Connor, president of Leg Up Farm).