There’s a reason the details at Stater Bros. Markets sparkle.
In his 13 years at the Colton, Calif.-based retailer, Roger Schroeder, vice president of produce, has implemented programs, big and small, to make the company’s produce division a standout.
The small things, like requesting grape suppliers switch to a clearer bag with a better shape for grape bunches, make a big difference, Schroeder says. The clear bags let customers see the fruit, and have helped the retailer increase sales in its grape category.
That kind of innovative thinking, and a willingness to try new things, keep Schroeder’s name at the top of many lists, says Dick Spezzano, of Spezzano Consulting, Monrovia, Calif., who was Schroeder’s mentor during his time at Vons.
“Nobody at retail does a better job,” Spezzano says. “He’s a total produce person. From the vendor side of the community, you can always approach Roger with something new and innovative.”
Stater Bros.’ commitment to innovation is evident in its newest store in Grand Terrace. From refrigerated produce cases with specially designed doors to keep product at optimum temperature, to energy efficient lighting, the store, which opened in late August, is a showcase for new ideas.
The ability to look ahead and see produce a different way sets him apart from his peers, says Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission.
“He has an uncanny ability to be ahead of the curve with creative merchandising ideas and concepts,” she says.
He has an infectious enthusiasm for produce and merchandising, says Jack Gyben, vice president of Los Angeles-based Progressive Produce Corp.
“He is a partner with vendors who bring value and ideas, and is a true leader and mentor to our industry,” he says.
His contributions aren’t limited to the buying and selling of produce, however. Schroeder is committed to helping his community through involvement with causes such as the Duarte, Calif.-based City of Hope cancer center. He also was a pioneer for the 5 a Day program in California.
DeLyser says when 5 a Day approached Schroeder about the program, there was no hesitation.
“Roger repeatedly steps up to the plate in leadership resulting in positive impact and results with industry,” she says.
Like many of his contemporaries, Schroeder never intended to make a career of produce.
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