Independent retailer Jeff Daugherty, owner of Ray’s Mini Mart, started in convenience retailing in 1993 when he acquired his first two stores … and quickly got burned by his employees.

“I bought the first two stores, but eventually sold them. I was getting burnt out and had to deal with employee embezzlement,” he says. “I took a year off and then regrouped—and acquired Ray’s.”

The second time around, employees made life far easier, he says. Two managers, Amber and Cari, have worked at the store for 12 years, while his top clerk, Diane, has been on board for all 17 years. Another assistant manager, Pauletta, is also considered a veteran of Ray’s.

An avid fisherman, Daugherty leverages the success of Ray’s to convince people, young and old, to take up fishing. Ray’s sponsors fishing teams at local Muskegon schools, donating time and resources to the pastime. His approach to finding and retaining solid workers is much like his approach to fishing—patience.

“We wait for the right person for the right situation. We aren’t in a rush to hire people,” he says. “I have 10 employees, and most have been here for years. We’re like family, really.”

Daugherty adds, “We don’t have huge turnover in the labor market. They have their set schedules; they know exactly how to run the store. Our management team, our managers, do a great job. They have been doing it six, seven, eight years, and they’re very consistent.