and Pat Fox are vice president and president of Fox
Bros. Piggly Wiggly, the employee-owned grocery chain
that began as one store in Hartland in 1988 and has
grown to nine stores including one recently purchased in
Kelly Smith/Special to
HARTLAND — A customer at the Fox
Bros. Piggly Wiggly in Hartland accidentally tore up $50 in cash
while walking out of the store.
The customer forgot a grocery receipt he ripped up was wrapped
around the two 20s and a $10 bill he received after cashing a check.
Store employee Jenn Keczmer spotted the remnants of the money in the
garbage and retrieved it.
Using cellophane tape, she meticulously pieced the bills back
together and later returned the money.
The customer offered a tip. She declined explaining that would be
against store policy.
Fox Bros.’ customer service culture is one reason why Carole Hohl
decided to sell Klotz’s Piggly Wiggly in West Bend to the
Hartland-based grocery company.
Carole and her former husband, Jeff Klotz, were successful business
partners for 26 years, owning Piggly Wigglys in West Bend, Fond du
Lac and Campbellsport.
Selling the stores after Jeff’s unexpected death in October was “an
emotional and difficult” decision for Carole, but she wanted to
spend more time with her family, including 12 grandchildren.
She was confident the Fox team at West Bend, and the store managers
who bought the Fond du Lac and Campbellsport stores, would maintain
the tradition of customer service and community involvement she and
Jeff established over two decades.
“I have known Pat and Lori Fox for years,” she explained.
Growth through the years
Pat began his career with the Piggly Wiggly in Plymouth in the early
1970s and served as manager in various stores before starting Pat’s
Piggly Wiggly in a small store in a strip mall in downtown Hartland
Two years later he and his brother Bob founded Fox Bros. Piggly
Wiggly at the existing Hartland location, south of the downtown
The company grew to nine stores including Hartland, Hartford,
Hubertus, Jackson, Saukville, Port Washington, Slinger, Oconomowoc
and West Bend.
Bob retired in 2006 and sold his interest in the company to Pat and
his wife Lori in 2010.
“The West Bend store is a great opportunity that fits within our
footprint in Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties,” Fox said.
“We are very focused on creating a customer-centric and sales
driven-culture in our stores,” Fox added.
“Our team members understand that our customers pay their wages and
I merely sign their checks,” Fox continued.
Lori Fox said the 90 employees in West Bend have an opportunity to
participate in the company’s employee stock ownership plan.
The Foxes sold the company to the ESOP as part of a succession plan
to protect the future of the company and reward the approximately
800 employees for their contributions to the company’s success.
An ESOP is a retirement plan that buys, holds and distributes
company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing them with
an ownership stake in the company.
The Foxes do not anticipate many significant changes in the West
“It is a pretty well-run ship,” according to Pat Fox.
There are plans to expand the liquor store, he said.
West Bend customers will be introduced to the more than 17 varieties
of award-winning Fox Bros. brats, as well as Certified Angus Beef,
Smithfield Prime Pork, and Gerber’s Amish Chicken, as well as Fox
There will also be a Brat Shack, a signature Fox Bros. contribution
to the communities it serves.
"Brat Shack" is one Fox Brothers Piggy Wiggly's
signature contribution to the nine communities it serves
in southeastern Wisconsin. Community organizations can
use the concession stand for fundraising events.
Kelly Smith/Special to
Community organizations use the outside concession stand
for fundraising events by selling Fox Bros.
award-winning brats and other food products to customers
entering and leaving the store.
Fox Bros. makes the events profitable for the group by
providing the food items at discounted prices.
Those discounted food items are not included in the more
than $1.4 million in cash and donations the company
gives to the communities it serves, according to the
Community organizations book their fundraisers at the
shack months in advance.
“I have had some mornings when I came to open the store
at 6 a.m. and there were people standing in line to make
reservations for their organizations’ Saturday at the
shack,” said Heather Costa, customer service manager at
the Hartland store.
The community spirit and fun at the shack is contagious
throughout the store, Costa added.
and Pat Fox of Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly chat with Diane
Walters of the Klotz's Piggly Wiggly in West Bend that
was recently purchased by Fox Bros.
Kelly Smith/Special to
David Lamerand has a unique perspective on Fox Bros.
As both a grocery industry consultant and former
Hartland village president, for two decades he watched
the company grow. According to Lamerand, locally owned
grocery stores can compete with “big box” and
chain-owned stores if they provide quality products,
excellent customer service, and establish positive
relationships with employees and the community.
“I can remember when Pat worked as manager at the first
store on Capitol (Drive). He bought it in 1986 and later
brought his brother Bob in,” Lamerand recalled.
In May of 1997, the brothers purchased the Oconomowoc
“That was the toughest business decision I ever made.
Bob and I were used to having our hands on everything.
When you have two stores, you can’t have your hands on
everything,” Fox explained.
Fox said he learned the importance of hiring store
managers who understand the commitment to providing
high-quality products and superior customer service
while establishing positive employee and community
“One of the reasons Pat Fox is so successful is that he
cares as much about his customers and employees having a
good experience in his stores as he cares about the
profit. He is not greedy,” said Milwaukee area grocery
consultant David Livingston.
Fox Bros. is a franchisee of Piggly Wiggly Midwest of
Sheboygan and in 2011 Pat Fox purchased the Hubertus,
Jackson, Saukville and Slinger stores from the
A family business
At the same time, Lori became vice president of the
She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education
from the University of Wisconsin- Stout and served as
executive director of Prevention and Protection of
Abused Children in Waukesha County.
“I reminded Pat that I had never had a boss and wasn’t
going to have one now, therefore we needed it be a
partnership,” Lori Fox explained As business partners,
they purchased the Hartford store in 2014 and four years
later added the Port Washington location.
They met in the late 1980s when Lori was a regular
customer at Pat’s Piggly Wiggly.
“We became friends. After five years, I finally agreed
to go out with him. The rest is history,” she explained.