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The Future of Bashas’
November, 2009, Page 116
The sixth floor of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix is as cold and quiet as a mausoleum. It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and all media attention is focused on the proceedings surrounding Glendale’s troubled hockey franchise, the Phoenix Coyotes.
On this day, only two lawyers are present before Judge James M. Marlar for the latest hearing on the Bashas’ bankruptcy case. One of them works for a bloc of banks that includes Wells Fargo and Bank of America, and he declines to comment. The other works for Bashas’, and he agrees to forward an interview request to Eddie “Trey” Basha III.
Trey Basha is Eddie’s oldest son. As a child, Trey reportedly told his great aunts that he wanted to be a doctor. They told him he should work for the family business. He started bagging groceries at age 12 at the Bashas’ near Ray and Alma School roads in Chandler, and he’s been involved with the company ever since.
Trey studied literature and business, earned an MBA from Arizona State University, fell in love with a Mormon girl and left the Catholic Church for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to marry her. At 45, he is an incredible speaker, loves Shakespeare, has serious finance chops and is guiding the company through the bankruptcy process. Two sources with deep knowledge of the family and the company say he is the ideal choice to lead Bashas’.
According to Eddie Jr., Ike Basha, 44, is a whiz with numbers and oversees Bashas’ support services. Michael Basha, 43, has vision and manages the company’s distribution center. David Basha, 37, is the youngest and helps oversee real estate development. And finally, Eddie Jr.’s cousin Johnny, 55, is the company’s vice chairman and senior vice president on real estate issues. They’re all a team, but Eddie, Trey and Johnny are the company’s longest-serving Bashas, in that order.
The new order is still a mystery. At a recent Friends of Bashas’ rally in Downtown’s Steele Indian School Park, Johnny Basha said the company likely will scale back on its charitable activities in the short run and build smaller markets oriented around more niche products. He says he’s not sure who will run the company, but the Basha family will remain in charge. “After this reorganization, I’d happily go back to being a checkout clerk,” he quips.
At the same rally, Trey Basha was a big bag of emotions. He says his father will probably continue to be the public face of the company, and that a new family member will take the lead. “Yes, that position would interest me. This has been my life,” he says. When asked to describe how he feels in one word, Trey Basha says, “Committed.”
Thankfully, the courts will force the family to decide quickly: At a recent hearing, lawyers told Judge Marlar that an official reorganization plan would be filed by the end of October.
Eddie Basha Jr., however, already has this all figured out. When pressed to discuss the company’s new management structure, he leans back from his coffee and rests his hands on the back of his head. He looks at ease, comfortable – as if he were dictating a message from his executive office.
“It’s evolving,” he says. “My eldest son is stepping to the forefront. He’s the one who is directing the operations of the company through Chapter 11, and when that is concluded and our reorganization takes place, then there will be changes in the management structure. I’m not at liberty to say what they are, but there will be changes in the structure to the extent that I will step aside as titular chairman.
“My new status,” he adds, “will be emeritus, and there will be a new chairman of the company that will take it to greater heights. That’s the hope, prayer, commitment and certainly the conviction. It will be leaner and a helluva lot more efficient.”
BASHAS TIMELINE OF EVENTS
- Tanuis’ eldest son, Najeeb Basha, emigrates from Lebanon to New York to join the family.
- Najeeb marries Najeeby Srour, daughter of a Lebanese immigrant; they have six daughters and two sons, Ike Basha and Eddie Basha.
- Najeeb and Najeeby move to Congress Junction, Arizona, to join other family members in a mercantile business; Najeeb and Najeeby strike out on their own but
fire destroys the business.
-The Basha family opens a store in Chandler, Arizona, on Boston Street; they sell groceries, dry goods and household items.
- Ike and Eddie Basha Sr. open their first store south of Chandler and put the family name on the storefront.
- The Basha family opens a third store in Mesa on Main Street.
- Eddie Basha Jr. begins to take an interest in the business at age 11.
- The Basha family opens its first major “supermarket” on Robson Street in Mesa; it was the largest store in the chain at 12,000 square feet.
- Ike Basha dies.
- Eddie Basha Jr. graduates from Stanford University with a degree in history.
- Eddie Basha Sr. dies; Eddie Jr. takes over the company as chairman and chief executive officer at age 31.
- The first Bashas’ store outside the Phoenix-metro area opens in Sedona.
- Bashas’ has 53 stores in its chain.
- Bashas’ acquires original Food City at 16th Street and Mohave in Phoenix. Bashas’
acquires AJ’s Fine Foods; grows that brand to include 13 stores.
- Bashas’ Supermarkets Inc. celebrates its 75th anniversary; the company has 153 stores and 14,000 “members” (employees).
- Bashas’ files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Fore more interesting facts and photos about Bashas' refer to these items:
- Check out historic photos of one of Arizona’s legacy businesses.
- A look at Eddie “Trey” Basha III, the likely leader of Bashas’ Supermarkets after bankruptcy.
- See who Bashas’ must settle their debts with to move out of bankruptcy.
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