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The Food Marketing Institute kicked off its 2016 FMI Connect general sessions by honoring two industry veterans for their service.
FMI awarded Jack Brown, executive chairman of Stater Bros. Markets, with its Glen P. Woodard Jr. Award for Public Affairs, and Maureen Murphy, manager of consumer trends, nutrition and lifestyles for Price Chopper Supermarkets/Market 32, with the Esther Peterson Award for Consumer Service.
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin commended Brown as one of the most ardent supporters of the organization’s Political Action Committee and for encouraging his company to be involved in the political process.
“Since his first meeting at the Super Market Institute in 1962, and attending his first convention that same year, Jack has been invested in the association and its mission to advocate on behalf of our industry” Sarasin said. “Jack is a decorated businessman, worthy not only of the Woodard Award, but also of our respect for his service to both country and local community.”
Brown began his career 65 years ago as a box boy at Berk’s Market Spot Grocery Store in his hometown of San Bernardino, Calif. He earned the title of CEO in 1981 at Stater Bros., returning to work five miles from where he grew up. Brown is well regarded for his dedication to, and institutional knowledge of, the supermarket industry. Touted as the largest private employer in the community, Stater Bros. under Brown’s leadership has been a recognized advocate for the community and underserved populations in Southern California and for contributing to charitable causes.
Before his days in grocery, Brown served aboard the U.S.S. Interceptor and the U.S.S. General J.C. Breckinridge in the U.S. Navy. Since his honorable discharge in 1962, Brown has remained committed to the Armed Forces and U.S. Military Operations.
“I think the most important thing to know about Jack Brown is that he is very proud of the fact that we were blessed by God to be born in this country, and he’s committed to making this country a better place,” said friend and former U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.). “He starts with his hometown and that’s where we first became friends. The award that he’s receiving, the Woodard Award, is a reflection [on] our community. [He’s a] phenomenal community citizen who is dedicated to making a difference.”
Stater Bros. Holdings Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, Phillip J. Smith commented on Brown’s leadership and service, recollecting that over the last 40 years of working as CFO for Jack Brown he has always been a man of principle. Smith said, “He’s made a great impact in the industry just being the leader he is.”
Smith further described Jack Brown’s commitment to the Veterans hospital and to regularly sending care packages to service men and women overseas. His support of the military and the armed forces is far-reaching and even extends to the local police and sheriff’s departments.
Brown has arguably received every major award in the food retail industry, including the FMI Rabb Award in 2005, as well as accolades from both California Grocers Association and the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC). He has been honored as “retailer of the year” by the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles, and holds several honorary doctorate degrees.
Brown has been dedicated to grassroots advocacy as a director of Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) since 1981, and he also served as its chairman. Brown is notably vested in FMI’s governance, participating in roles from FMI’s board of directors (1988 - present) to vice chair of the FMI Finance Committee (1989-1991) and Executive Committee (1989-1991 and 2001-2002), to consistently donating to its Foundation and Political Action Committee.
Voice of the customer
For more than three decades, Price Chopper’s Maureen Murphy has focused on the shopper, and similar to the consumer advocate for which the Esther Peterson Award is named, Murphy is celebrated for a lifetime of vision, integrity and caring sensitivity to the needs of retail food customers.
“Every company needs an individual who is a voice of the customer, and Maureen is that person,” Price Chopper/Market 32 Vice Chairman Jerry Golub said. “Her ability to use her background as a nutritionist and bring that to bear in addition to the knowledge of customer trends has also been extremely helpful to us.”
Described as a “consummate consumer affairs professional” by Executive Chairman Neil Golub, Murphy’s leadership extends to several high-profile initiatives for the organization. “She’s literally been at the beginning of every major building block that we’ve done in this industry towards helping our customers to better understand this world of food,” he said.
Murphy’s pioneering efforts are well rooted in her execution and management of customer interface programs; she was responsible for running the call center and even oversaw a hotline that instructed consumers on cooking temperatures and how to prepare a meal. Murphy led programs that helped introduce consumers to new food and products from the grocery store from in-store sampling to hosting broadcast television segments to inform customers about best practices in food and nutrition.
Murphy oversees health and wellness, nutrition, meal and party planning and food and lifestyle programs for Price Chopper/Market 32, which includes supervising the efforts and outreach of the corporate nutritionist, and often serving as corporate spokesperson for food, nutrition and lifestyle initiatives.
“Like Esther, Maureen Murphy’s name is synonymous with trust: She is an advocate for the consumer and always puts them first,” Sarasin said. “I maintain the highest regard for what she has accomplished for both Price Chopper and her profession.”
Murphy holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food and Nutrition. She is a member of the Food Marketing Institute’s Communications and Consumer Affairs Council, has served on the Partnership for Food Education Committee’s Be Food Safe Retailer Advisory Group, and is a long-standing board member for Hunger Solutions New York, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating hunger for residents of New York state.
Case for innovation
Rounding out the morning, Todd Morris, president U.S. of Catalina, let a Q&A discussion with Steve Case, the founder of America Online who now leads investment concern Revolution LLC.
Case discussed the ideas behind his new book, “The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future,” copies of which were given to expo attendees.
This third wave of tech innovation “will mimic in many ways the first wave” that spawned the internet revolution led in large part by AOL beginning in the mid-1980s. As such, that first wave offers lessons on “how to position yourself as an individual and as a company.”
Case explained that this first wave was basically “building the internet” and educating people how and why to use it, noting that in 1985, only 3 percent of people were online. “Nobody knew what it was or cared,” he said, noting that by 2000, “they couldn’t live without it.”
The second wave was building on the internet (e.g. apps), with the third wave to bring full integration of online into daily life, which requires “a different mindset and playbook,” Case said.
“The most profound changes start as crazy ideas,” he continued, nothing that most people in 1985 didn’t have personal computers and few of those had modems, which were costly to purchase and maintain.
Now, things that were once a dream are mainstream, and companies need to “shake things up internally to get people thinking about what’s happening next,” Case said. The trick, he said, is “how to mobilize resources to accelerate getting to the right place.”
Key to further innovation will be strategic partnerships to accelerate the process, Case asserted: “The third wave will be defined by partners.”
Large companies, he said, “don’t take enough shots on goal,” he said, meaning they don’t take enough risks in pursuit of greater rewards. “They need to get out of the mindset of managing and into the mindset of imagining.”
Case offered this perspective on how to come up with the next big disruptor: “If you were leaving your company angry and you wanted to put them out of business, what would you do?”
Asked what tech trends are specific to the food industry, Case named convenience (“People often sacrifice privacy for convenience”); health, especially fresh and natural products; and experience (“The experience created in the store is a big deal” as stores “shift from just selling stuff”).
“Most people will conclude the benefits of convenience will trump the risks,” Case said. “The pace of invention will accelerate but how it’s integrated into everyday life will require debate that will slow things down.”
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