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Longtime affiliation: Affiliated Food Stores Southwest of Little Rock ranks no. 3 on the Top 50.

Arkansas' third-largest privately held company had humble beginnings.

The 850-employee Affiliated Food Stores Southwest Inc. began in the mid-1940s when 10 independent Little Rock retail grocers each invested $1,000. That created the nucleus for what was to become Model Markets Inc., through which the grocers could purchase food products at wholesale prices and institute a group advertising program.

Model Markets became Associated Wholesale Grocers Warehouse in 1957 and Affiliated Food in 1972.

In 1957, independent retail grocers had less than 5 percent of the Little Rock market.

Today, Affiliated claims about 30 percent of the market.

19 Subsidiaries

The cooperative operates 19 subsidiary companies and serves more than 250 independent retailers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Much of the company's direction has come from C.E. "Doc" Toland, Affiliated's chairman and chief executive officer. Toland became general manager in 1957, the youngest person ever to hold the job.

In April, Toland was inducted into the National Cooperative Hall of Fame. He is the first person from the retailer-owned food distribution industry to receive the honor given by the National Cooperative Business Association.

Toland moved the company into the production of dairy products and soft drinks.

A bottling operation at Winnsboro, La., produces drinks for Affiliated members.

Affiliated also operates Little Rock's Gold Star Dairy, the state's largest dairy. It opened in 1980 and has added production plants at Atlanta and Clovis, N.M. Gold Star was among the first dairies to introduce a plastic half-gallon carton.

Affiliated also has a non-foods department that offers health and beauty items and general merchandise. The non-foods sector is expected to have the highest profit potential in the 1990s.

Affiliated has its own advertising staff, art department, print shop and insurance agency. It even has an investment corporation that can loan independent grocers up to $250,000 for start-up costs.
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Title Annotation:Top Fifty Profile
Author:Rengers, Carrie
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jul 20, 1992
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