1992 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Get a good education, then find a job you really like, you’re really good at . . . then work really hard."
Jack Brown was born in 1940 in San Bernardino County, California. He was an only child whose father, a chief deputy sheriff, died when Jack was eight. His mother, who worked as a sales clerk, made less than $15 a week. To earn a little extra, she took in alterations. Watching her work six days a week taught Brown an early lesson about working hard to get ahead.
At age 10, he started mowing lawns and delivering newspapers and began working at a grocery store when he was 13. Soon, his diligence gave him more responsibility at the store, where he worked throughout high school. He attended San Jose State on a football scholarship, but after two broken legs decided against pursuing that as a career. He returned home to southern California and took business classes at UCLA. He served with the Navy for two years and then went to work for a local grocery company, Sages Complete Market.
By the time Brown was 28, he was the youngest vice president in the history of the company. This was followed by other positions of increasing responsibility with several supermarket companies. In 1981, he returned to his hometown of San Bernardino as president and CEO of Stater Bros. Markets. Today, he serves as chairman and CEO of Stater Bros.
In 1993, Brown was named Executive of the Year and received the Hall of Achievement Award from the California Grocers Association for a lifetime of dedication to the grocery industry. In 2001 and 2004, Jack Brown was voted America's Retailer of the Year. Stater Bros. is California's largest privately owned supermarket chain and one of the largest supermarket chains in the country.
Jack Brown has a plaque that sits on his desk that states: "The time to be happy is now, the place to be happy is here, and the way to be happy is to help someone else." He conducts his daily life on that basis and counts a day successful if he has helped others within his company or community. He says, "Leaders are chosen, not appointed, by those with whom they work each day. It is a high compliment when the people you work with put their shoulder to your wheel."
Brown says that the Horatio Alger Award is the most outstanding honor ever bestowed on him. "Receiving this award has inspired me to do even more to assist others in pursuing their higher education goals," he says. Brown has given generously to California State University at San Bernardino, where the building that houses the College of Business and Public Administration is named for him.
When talking with youth, his advice is simple and direct: "Respect your parents, your family, and those around you, and you will learn to respect yourself. Think big, love God, and work hard!"