Schells continue family tradition

Three generations manage Reynolds Market in Baker . . .

l-r: Chris, Ken and Jake Schell keep the tradition going at Reynolds.   Photo by Lori Kesinger
l-r: Chris, Ken and Jake Schell keep the tradition going at Reynolds.
Photo by Lori Kesinger

By Lori Kesinger

   Growing up in Baker, Ken Schell always wanted to work with his dad, Clarence, at the grocery store. At the age of 13 he finally got his wish and became a carryout/stocker for the Reynolds store.

   Now 44 years later, Ken has stepped up to regional manager for the Reynolds Market stores and son, Chris Schell, is manager of the Baker store for the third generation. As regional manager, Ken will spend his work day at one of five stores located in Sidney, Glendive, Miles City, Glasgow, and Baker. He also serves as vice president of the F.T. Reynolds Corporation.

   In 1963, the F.T. Reynolds Co., headquartered in Sidney, decided to build a store in Baker. Pat Killworth from Glendive was the first manager of the Baker store and Leonard Oberlander was the assistant manager. Clarence owned a locker plant and meat shop when he was asked to manage the store. He started in 1968 and managed Reynolds until his retirement in 1996.

   Ken moved to the meat department in 1973, then became produce manager in 1974. “I did that job while I was still in school. So I would come to work in the morning at 5:00 and work until school started,” Ken said. “Back then they had D.E.C.A. where you could get out at 1:00, so even though I was still in high school I was working eight hour days as produce manager.”

   After he graduated, Ken remained produce manager until 1989 when Oberlander left. He then became the assistant manager, and followed his dad in 1996 to become manager.

   “When I started I didn’t think I would be here forever, but it will probably be the only job I have in my life,” Ken said.

   Chris started working at Reynolds in June 1991, then attended college in 1996. He worked for Coca-Cola Enterprises in Billings from 2000 until he moved back to Baker in 2006.  Chris became bakery/deli manager in 2008 and assistant manager in 2011.

   “I’ve been learning for the last couple of years, kind of getting ready because we knew this day would come,” Chris said. “We thought it was going to be a little farther out but they decided to bump it up by a couple of years.”

   Jake Schell, Chris’ brother, has become assistant manager. He started working at Reynolds in 2000. He attended college from 2000 until 2006 then lived in Billings for a few years before moving back to Baker. He worked at NAPA and returned to the store in 2012.

   “There is a lot more responsibility to it,” Jake said. “A lot  I have to learn. A lot Chris is going to teach me.”

   Over the years, even now, numerous family members have held positions at Reynolds, which has become an essential part of life in Baker for more than five decades.

   Current long-term employees include Cindy Austin, office manager, 39 years; Larry Schell, produce manager, 29 years; and Patty Holliday, health, beauty and general merchandise, 18 years.

   “It’s really been the goal of our family to provide Baker with a nice quality grocery store because most small towns don’t usually have that,” Ken added.  “It’s gotten to be much harder to do.”