Last updated on July 21st, 2017 at 11:42 am
Ben Schwartz, a nationally recognized leader of the retail grocery industry and former board chairman of Certified Grocers of California Ltd., celebrated his 100th birthday on July 8 with family and friends on the Entertainer yacht in Marina del Ray.
Certified Grocers is a predecessor company of Unified Grocers, which was recently acquired by Supervalu.
For many years, Schwartz owned and operated the Foods Co., a successful chain of supermarkets in Los Angeles that grew from a single store opened in the early 1900s by his father. Long known as one of the most forward-thinking retail companies in Southern California, the Foods Co. regularly featured some of the newest ideas in the grocery business, thanks largely to Schwartz, who literally traveled around the world in search of new products, services and selling techniques that he could implement in his stores.
Schwartz served as a director of Certified Grocers of California for more than 40 years, including four years as chairman. He also worked for the grocery industry at the national level by serving in leadership positions for many years at the Food Marketing Institute and several national retail and wholesale associations that preceded it. In 1986, FMI recognized Schwartz with its Sidney R. Rabb Award for excellence in serving the consumer, the community and the industry.
Unified Grocers honored Schwartz in 2005 by naming an annual retailer of the year award after him. Every year since, the “Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award” has been given to an independent retail grocer or grocery company that best embodies Schwartz’s innovative spirit and inspires others to think and act creatively and with passion in the grocery field. A duplicate of the “Ben Schwartz Retail Grocer Visionary Award” is on permanent display in the lobby of Supervalu’s Commerce, California, offices.
*Editor’s note: The Shelby Report’s Bob Reeves sat down with Schwartz in 2015 around the time of his 98th birthday; read about his secrets to longevity here.