Oral Edwards started his career in the grocery business as an assistant manager in Millington, Tennessee in 1959. Mr. Edwards next moved to Kennett, Missouri, in 1961 as a store manager. In 1962, he got the opportunity to be part owner in a new store. He loaded up his family for the third and final time and moved to Forrest City, Arkansas. A new Liberty Supermarket was opened there in 1962. By today's standards it was a small store, but it was huge for that time. Forrest City became home for Oral and Christine Edwards and their children Steve and Susan.
Along with some partners, a second store was opened by Edwards in Helena, Arkansas, in 1964. This occurred just as the new Helena Bridge was being completed over the Mississippi River. Helena and Phillips County were experiencing a huge growth spurt, and business was booming. The company was growing rapidly and opened a third store in Marianna in 1965. The partners opened several other stores in Arkansas and Mississippi over the next few years. GES, Inc., an Arkansas Corporation, was formed in 1968 to consolidate this group of supermarkets. In 1975, Steve Edwards entered the business full-time after graduating from Arkansas State University. Steve and his wife, Laura, who is the company CPA, live in Marianna, Arkansas, and have three children. The Edwards Family owns and operates GES, Inc. which has grown to 12 stores over the past few years. Today, the company operates stores under two different banners, which includes seven Edwards Food Giant stores and five Edwards Cash Saver stores, all located in Arkansas. The Edwards Food Giant stores are located in Bryant, East End, Harrisburg, Marianna, and three locations in Little Rock. The Edwards Cash Saver stores are located in Beebe, Forrest City, Jacksonville, Little Rock and North Little Rock. To better serve the evolving grocery industry, the company continues to invest in its facilities, new services and most importantly, it’s Team Members. As the shopping patterns of grocery shoppers continually change, GES is always looking for better ways to serve its loyal guests. In 2017, the company launched Edwards Curbside, an online shopping service that allows shoppers to order their groceries online, have them picked by a “Professional Shopper” and delivered right to their car. A lot has changed since 1959 but one thing remains the same, the high level of service Team Members provide. GES has always felt that being in the grocery really means being in the PEOPLE business.
GES, Inc. has an excellent management team. All store managers have been with the company for several years and have built good reputations in the communities in which they operate. Each of them leads their own team of department managers to run a profitable and efficient store. Vice President of Operations, Gary Proffitt, supervises the day to day operations of all stores. Gary gained extensive management experience while working for the Megamarket and Food 4 Less chains and later as a Retail Counselor for Fleming Foods before joining GES 20+ years ago. Bob Childers, of Harrisburg, is Director of Meat Operations, and has been with the company for over fifty years. He maintains retail meat pricing, handles meat advertising, and travels to each store to oversee meat operations.
In order to perpetuate the family business, Paul Rowton, son-in-law of Steve Edwards, moved into a corporate management role in 2009. He served as store manager from 2002 -2009. Before that, he gained experience as a regional supervisor with the Hershey Foods Company where he supervised a team of representatives and personally called on major supermarket and warehouse accounts. His knowledge of the manufacturing and wholesaling sides of the industry brought a new level of expertise to the company.. Paul is a graduate of Arkansas State University as well. Paul currently serves as Vice President and oversees all executive operations of the company.
In 2018, Steve Edwards Jr. joined the company full time after graduating from the University of Arkansas. He has brought a tremendous amount of insight to the company and currently serves as Special Projects Manager and oversees the efforts of the digital marketing team.
There is no doubt that much of the success of the company can be attributed to an award winning team of loyal Team Members, many of which have been with the company for over 30 years. Their commitment to providing the highest level of service to guests is the difference maker in an extremely competitive industry. The Edwards Family is thankful for their team members and their dedication to the company’s vision.
Edwards Food Giant and Edwards Cash Saver stores strive to be good corporate and community citizens through involvement in activities such as local youth sports, charities, civic clubs, and community development. The leaders of the company serve on boards and committees at both the local and state level and believe that in order for their business to grow and prosper, the communities in which they operate must also grow and prosper. GES understands that serving guests well always starts with happy Team Members who work hard each day to serve all GES guests.