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Good piece in the Los Angeles Times profiling 162-unit Stater Bros., which, according to the piece, has “spent $15 million over the last two years on refrigeration and expanding its produce sections from 450 items to more than 800.” That’s just symbolic of a broader investment program focusing on low prices and customer service that CEO Jack Brown believes allows his company to compete effectively in Southern California against the likes of Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons, Wal-Mart and Costco.

There’s no retreat in Brown’s Stater Bros., which plans to open five more stores this year and 10 next year, even while opening a new $250 million headquarters and distribution center.

The Times writes, “Brown looks at each store as an admiral might view ships in a navy. Everything must be neat and tidy, and the staff must remember that it works for the customers…There's (even) a boot camp for newly hired checkers, even if they have worked at another chain.”

And according to the story, Brown has no plans to either give up his command or sell the company.

"I have no plans to leave," Brown tells the paper about the job he has held for a quarter-century. And, regarding a possible sale of the company, he says, “"I have no interest at this time” – even though he regularly received inquiries about the chain’s availability.
KC's View:
We’ve always thought that one of Stater’s big advantages – and one of the reasons that it also is on the Consumer Reports list of the nation’s top ten supermarkets this year – was reflected by the fact that Brown always uses the words “Inland Empire” like his middle name. It defined where he lived, where he worked, who the people are that are served by his company.

We do think that the Times has the imagery wrong, though. When we think of Brown, it’s never with him as an admiral. It’s usually leading the Cavalry, and Brown’s always on a horse.