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Grocery Powerhouse In Southern California

March 18, 2013

Twin brothers Cleo and Leo Stater started Stater Bros. Market with a small grocery store on West Yucaipa Boulevard in Yucaipa, California (San Bernardino County). The year was 1936 and what made this opening audacious was this was during the time of the Great Depression. Notwithstanding, the business flourished and by 1939 had opened four more grocery stores in San Bernardino County: Redlands, Bloomington, Colton, and Fontana.

The enterprise kept growing eventually moving into other counties including Los Angeles County.  By 1959, Stater Bros. was doing business in 23 locations and had more than 700 employees. As the grocery chain grew it also became an attractive business opportunity for others. In 1968, Stater Bros. was bought by Petrolane Incorporated based in Long Beach.

While the ownership changed it did not alter the continuous growth of the grocery chain, by 1979 Stater Bros, had 82 stores with more than 5,000 employees. The year 1980 was auspicious in the company’s history at it managed to open ten supermarkets during the 12-month period. The following year was also significant in the sense of one person who would come into the scene.

This person was Jack H. Brown who joined the growing grocery chain as President and CEO. In 1983 Petrolane sold the chain to a private investment group and La Cadena Investments led by Jack Brown.  While Stater Bros. is today a private company it actually went public in 1985.

The following year saw a four-month battle for control of Stater Bros. When the dust settled La Cadena Investments came out the winner and Jack Brown was elected Chairman of the Board.  In 1987 the grocery chain once again became a private entity.

Despite the ownership drama the company continued to grow and the year 1988 marked the first time sales passes $1 billion. Ownership stability came about in 1997 when La Cadena Investments led by Jack Brown became the sole stockholder of Stater Bros.

The grocery chain with 167 full service supermarkets in six counties, primarily in the Riverside and San Bernardino areas is the largest privately owned supermarket chain in Southern California. It annual sales is around $ 4 billion and employs 18,000 individuals.  Personalities like the original Stater twin brothers and current chairman and owner Jack Brown have played pivotal roles in making the company what it is today.

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