April 26, 2010

USC Marshall Food Industry Management Program Sets Graduation, Honors Jim Lee of Stater Bros.

The USC Marshall School of Business Food Industry Management (FIM) Program will host its annual graduation day on April 28, 2010.  The day’s activities include the capstone presentations of the FIM Program’s 52nd graduating class and honoring the Food Industry Executive of the Year, Jim Lee, President and Chief Operating Officer of Stater Bros. Markets.

The 52nd class will culminate its participation in USC’s FIM Program with students presenting their capstone projects to food industry senior executives and business leaders.  In their projects, students address topics and challenges facing the industry on a daily basis. The students incorporate the semester’s classroom teachings to provide recommendations for how their industry can meet these challenges and thrive.   The presentations will take place at USC’s Davidson Conference Center at 8:30 a.m.

Bob Hermanns, Director of Food Industry Programs at Marshall, said FIM students have conducted extensive research on five topics of significant impact to retailers and suppliers for the capstone presentations, which will include their insights and recommendations.

The 27 students will be joined by alumni of USC’s FIM and Food Industry Executive programs, as well as industry executives and managers.  The evening will recognize student achievements from the past semester and honor Marshall MBA alumnus Lee as USC Food Industry Executive of the Year.

The award is presented annually to a food industry executive who has shown extraordinary leadership while producing exceptional business results.  “Jim Lee joins an elite group of recipients and has contributed significantly to this industry’s quest for excellence, service and results,” said USC Marshall School of Business Dean James G. Ellis.  “We are pleased to honor him with this award for his leadership within the industry and his contributions to the USC Food Industry Management Program.”

Stater Bros. is the largest privately owned supermarket chain in Southern California, with annual sales in 2009 of $3.77 billion.  The company currently operates 167 supermarkets with more than 19,000 employees.  This year, Stater Bros. also received the “2010 Community Service Award” from America’s Supermarket Industry.

Lee joined Stater Bros. in 2002 as the Group Senior Vice President of Retail Operations, bringing more than 30 years of experience in the supermarket industry.  In January 2006, he was promoted to Executive Vice President of Retail Operations and Administration.  On Sept. 25, 2006, he was promoted to his current position of President and Chief Operating Officer and assumed overall responsibility for the company’s day-to-day operations.

Lee began his grocery career as a clerk’s helper in 1972 with Ralphs Grocery Company in Southern California.  He was promoted to various positions during his 25 years at the company, serving finally as Group Vice President of the Central Division, where he had responsibility for the highest sales-volume division at Ralphs.

Prior to joining Stater Bros., Lee was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Wild Oats Markets, Inc., from 1996 to 2001.  During his time with Wild Oats, Lee helped the company go public and oversaw a 600 percent increase in sales.

Lee has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Azusa Pacific University and a Food Industry Management Certificate and MBA from Marshall. He also graduated the Executive Program in the Graduate School of Business at UCLA.  Lee was honored by Azusa Pacific with the Academic Hall of Honor 2008 Award.

Lee is on the Board of the Western Association of Food Chains and served as president in 2007-08.  He is on the Advisory Board for the City of Hope Food Industries Circle and the Board of Directors for Topco Associates, LLC, as well as a past board member of the Food Marketing Institute and a former trustee for the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation

The FIM Program marked its 50th anniversary in 2008. Each year, a maximum of 35 students are chosen from a wide range of companies in the food industry to participate in the elite 14-week program. Individuals selected must have proven records of management accomplishments with significant potential for future advancement.

For more information about the Food Industry Management program and this event please contact the FIM Program office at 213-740-5585.  For more information, go to http://www.marshall.usc.edu/fim