business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Press-Enterprise in California's Inland Empire has a nice profile of Jack Brown, chairman/president/CEO of Stater Bros., which has just "announced that his company will build a two million-square-foot corporate headquarters and consolidated warehousing operation at the former Norton Air Force Base in his native San Bernardino. The redevelopment project was immediately applauded by labor leaders and by area economists."

Stater Bros., of course, is coming off a four-month period during which it was able to build sales and reportedly retire a lot of debt because of the strike/lockout at its competitors - Safeway's Vons, Kroger's Ralphs, and Albertsons. Stater Bros. had a deal to abide whatever contract terms the union struck with the three major chains, and then provided customers with a viable alternative for shoppers.

Brown also has created a strong relationship with his employees that appears to be an exception in a management-labor culture where enmity seems to be the rule. And, through a personal ethic that stresses patriotism, loyalty and honesty, Brown has provided leadership as opposed to mere management.
KC's View:
We recalled for the Press-Enterprise reporter of how, back in our old SupermarketInsights video days, we produced a segment about Brown that ended with a brief clip of his hero, John Wayne, astride a horse and moving out men and cattle. Brown got a little misty when he saw it…but we think it was more than just a clever but of writing.

Too many CEOs these days would identify a green eyeshade as their headgear of choice. But Brown would pick a cowboy hat…and we think that the notion of providing leadership, as opposed to mere management, is a quality worth embracing.