We are FAMILY.

By: Jessie Kuhn | Staff Writer
On: April 29, 2015

A disastrous fire hit a building adjacent to Dorothy Lane Market in the late 1940s, sending ripples of damage to where it stood as a fruit stand at the corner of Far Hills and Dorothy Lane. Norman Mayne, CEO, recalls the family banding together alongside one another to overcome the damages. “I was 4 years old. I remember holding a paintbrush and helping,” Norman says.

As the Dorothy Lane Market story has unfolded the past 67 years, growing from that humble fruit stand to three booming locations, the family fiber that’s woven in its very essence can’t be ignored. It’s a feeling that anyone working here understands, whether they are a part of the ownership family, the associate family, the customer family, or even the vendor families who produce many of the fresh foods carried. Calvin Mayne, DLM President, COO, and Norman’s son, says that “there’s authenticity and genuineness here … a high level of comfort and trust everyone has with one another” through these close-knit relationships.

Fred Pfeiffer, Store Director, has worked for DLM for nearly 25 years. “I have always felt that DLM is my second family,” he says. Now, Nick Pfeiffer, Fred’s son, works as the Washington Square store’s Second Shift Manager. “Being able to work with actual family members is that much more special,” he says. ”Sometimes, a customer or associate will tell me about a positive experience they had with my son not knowing we are related.”

Norman finds comfort knowing that these working relationships are another way for family to spend time with one another, just as he gets to with his own family.

Today, Norman estimates that 225 of the some 800 associates are related in some way to one another. He’s humbled by the fact that someone who has had a positive experience with the company would encourage a family member to join the team. “It was more of an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one.”

Multiple Generations Working Alongside One Another

Within those family connections, you’ll find spouses, siblings, and even multiple generations. They work in any number of roles, from bakers, butchers, and chefs to store directors, truck drivers, and cheesemongers. In talking to some of these DLM families with members who span a variety of jobs, one commonality is a shared passion for food and an appreciation for working alongside one another.

The Chrisman family is one of the many. Wayne, 73, has worked at DLM for 55 years. He says that every one of his kids and grandkids have held jobs at DLM at one point in their lives. Today, sons Dennis and Mike Chrisman, grandson Morgan Chrisman and his wife Morgan, have all made careers at DLM.

“When Morgan [my son] took a job in the Meat department, he got a chance to work with his uncle Mike, his dad, and his grandpa [Wayne]. It was probably one of my proudest moments as a father,” says Dennis, VP of People and Produce.

Morgan, now the Killer Brownie® Manager, stares across a table at his father, uncle, and grandfather in the DLM break room. “There are six shoes on that side of the table I’m trying to fill. I can’t wait to have been here as long as these guys,” he says.

For Mike, he admires his father’s work ethic and has since he was a child. “He uses both hands to work.” Mike exudes that same work ethic today as Washington Square Meat Department Manager. “We say ‘this is like our house.’ If there’s trash on the floor, we pick it up. No task is beneath us in taking care of that house.”

Erika Cuellar, Washington Square Cheese Shop Manager, understands that sense of loyalty everyone has for the store itself. Erika along with her four siblings, mother, and father have all spent time working at DLM over the years. “We’re all family here. It makes people feel welcomed,” she says. “I almost feel like we see how well we’ve been taken care of and that’s why we want one another to be a part of it. … And I take care of my customers.”

Taking Care of One Another and Dorothy

Jerry Post, Oakwood Store Director, has worked for DLM for 24 years, and agrees that the family vibe is something felt in the culture at large. His brother Drew is the Assistant Store Director at the Springboro DLM. “Our culture exudes family and it doesn’t take long to feel a part of it if you want to,” Jerry says, pointing out that it isn’t just a matter of who you are related to. In fact, a kind gesture extended by his co-workers really made him realize that he wasn’t alone. In 1993, he was running late and was issued a speeding ticket while heading to a college class at 8 a.m. on a Monday, the day after he had closed the store for the night. He had asked to get more hours the following week to pay for the ticket. “Norman called me to the café where he, Eileen Wilson, and a few other managers handed me an envelope. They had collected money to help me pay for the ticket,” he says.

For Morgan, that element of family that speaks to the larger DLM culture was apparent four years ago when flood waters filled the Washington Square store. “I’d just gotten off work when my dad called,” he says, thinking that it’d be just a small group working to clean up the debris. “We got here and half the store was here. That family element extends to everyone who works here. We all wanted to help.”

Norman Mayne is proud of the entire DLM family. “I’ll pull up in front of the stores and pinch myself,” he says. “If we take care of Dorothy, she will take care of us.”