As Berens Warehouse Groceries nears its fortieth anniversary, the third generation of the Berens family is stepping into a management role.
Brandon Berens, son of Bob and Michelle Berens, was hired as the general store manager. “Nobody could be more excited and proud than my dad, Dick,” stated Bob. “It means a lot to him to have the third generation of the family running our business. And of course, I think it’s great too. We are very excited and glad to have Brandon back in Milbank.” Brandon and his wife-to-be Jani Hardin from Brookings will be married on September 3 and making their home in Milbank. Jani is employed at HealthFirst Chiropractic in Milbank.
Brandon is a 2011 graduate of Milbank High School. He spent the last three years managing Madison Discount Liquors in Madison, South Dakota, under owners Tony and Lori Tillma and Todd and Rhonda Thyne. According to Bob, Brandon gained valuable experience working with vendors, managing staff, and learning the ropes of management.
Although Brandon started as manager officially on July 18, he is in no way new to the Berens Warehouse. He grew up spending a lot of time at the store before becoming legally employed there at the age of 14. “I remember riding the scrubbers around a lot with my dad from the time I was 2,” he reflected. “Let’s just say he was here a lot growing up,” Bob said.
Brandon did not foresee working alongside family as a career until his first year of college. “During college, I just couldn’t find anything I really wanted to do. Every time I came back home and to the store, I enjoyed it so much. Then it all made sense – this is where I was meant to be.”
Brandon will be responsible for the day-to-day manager duties and office, which will free up owners Bob and his brother, Tom, to oversee the operations. “We will still be here. We aren’t going anywhere,” Bob stated. “Hopefully down the road, Brandon can buy into the business and eventually take over for us.”
Berens Warehouse Groceries was opened in October of 1976 by Dick and Deanie Berens and their five children. Bob and Tom bought out the other family members in 1996. Their father, Dick, still stops in the store every day just to keep his eye on things. “He still likes to tell us what to do. He will say, Hey, you should go pull those weeds outside. Funny thing is -we still tend to jump when he tells us to.”
Brandon plans to continue to operate the store in the same manner as the generations before him. “I just want to make sure everything runs the way it is supposed to. I like people and I like having a lot on my plate and not enough time, and this business definitely fits that.”