Indiana State University Newsroom

Distinguished alumnus' successful family business inspires ISU students

October 30, 2008

Bob Baesler has two simple rules when it comes to running the business that has been in his family since 1894.

"Rule number one is the customer is always right," Baesler said. "Rule number two is if the customer is ever wrong, refer back to rule number one."

Baesler owns and operates Baesler's Market on Poplar Street in Terre Haute. A 1972 graduate of Indiana State University, Baesler holds a degree in business administration. This year, the university honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Award.

"I was honored and surprised to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. I guess in a lot of respects I don't really feel deserving. ISU is a great school," he said.

The independent supermarket, first opened by Baesler's great-grandfather, has changed locations over the years and expanded its product line, but never sacrificed its basic business principles.

"We've always attempted to offer the best quality products that were available," Baesler said.

Baesler, a Terre Haute native, always knew he wanted to attend Indiana State. Education has remained a priority and one he encourages among his employees. Baesler works around the class schedules of college students and even offers bonuses to help with tuition. Many of the students he employs attend Indiana State.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for us to have ISU in town," he said. "We are really dependent on the great young people from that school who work here."

Baesler recently hosted two groups of students from the Indiana State College of Business at his store to share his expertise on what it takes to succeed in the business world.

"As an independent supermarket, with the big box stores and the chains, it really is harder and harder to compete," Baesler told a group of Master of Business Administration (MBA) students. "But really, there are three things we try do. It's not rocket science. We try to be the best at what we're doing, be different or be first."

Ashley Layman, an MBA student from Terre Haute, hopes to one day own a business. She said Baesler's presentation helped her understand the need for differentiation and the importance of customer service.

"I'm currently in a marketing class and one of the principle concepts we are learning deals with market-driven strategy and making the customers the starting point of the business," Layman said. "Bob Baesler reinforced that thinking during his presentation on the various programs his store offers. By having a method that allows customers to request particular items, for example, he is showing that he recognizes that importance of customers to Baesler's success."

Baesler told the students about one customer who requested powdered peanut butter. After locating a supplier for the product, Baesler was able to offer it at a lower cost than what the woman would have paid had she ordered it online. The store now keeps the specialty product in stock.

The ability to interact with customers, as well as a group of 185 dedicated employees, makes Baesler's job worthwhile.

"There's definitely a lot of risk involved, but it is rewarding to have that many good employees and to have as many great customers as we have," he said.


Writer: Emily Taylor, media relations assistant director, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

Story Highlights

Bob Baesler, a 1972 graduate of Indiana State University and 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, recently hosted a group of business students at his store on Poplar Street in Terre Haute. The owner of Baesler's Market, Baesler shared his marketing expertise and discussed the value of customer service.

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