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1996 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Byron Allumbaugh

Chairman of the Board, Retired
Ralphs Grocery Company

"My objective was to do the best job I could in whatever job I had at the time."

Byron Allumbaugh grew up in the early 1930s in Chicago, where he watched his parents struggle throughout the Depression. His father, a baker at that time, had to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. Even though times were difficult, Allumbaugh's family life was warm and loving. His mother came from a poor family in the South where she worked in the cotton fields as a child. She imbued in her son a sense of personal worth and taught him to be honest with himself and his fellow man.

During World War II, the family moved to the Pacific Northwest to take advantage of the jobs in the defense industry. Allumbaugh's father became a welder and his mother worked as a riveter. Large for his age, Allumbaugh got a job as an apprentice butcher at a meat market when he was just 12. He took advantage of the opportunity given him and worked his way up to journeyman meat cutter by the time he graduated from high school. He then entered college, planning to train for radio and TV broadcasting. But when he discovered he could make more money as a butcher, he quit school.

At the age of 19, Allumbaugh married and became a meat buyer. By now, veterans were returning to the job force, but Allumbaugh had a major head start on them. In 1958, he became the director of meat operations for Ralphs and spearheaded the process of preparing beef at a central point before shipping it to their stores for the final cuts. Allumbaugh began taking jobs in other management areas and was soon appointed chief operating officer; then, in 1973, he was named president. Three years later he became Ralphs' CEO. For the next 22 years, Allumbaugh guided the company through tremendous growth, expanding from 60 to 430 stores. After several years in retirement, Allumbaugh became chairman of CKE Restaurants, Inc., which operates Carl's Jr.®, Hardee's®, La Salsa®, and Green Burrito® restaurant chains. In addition, he has served on numerous corporate boards, both public and private.

Of his Horatio Alger Award, Allumbaugh says, 'It was an honor to receive this award and I am proud to have been a part of the growth that has taken place in our scholarship programs. My advice to these young people is to do the best job they can in whatever job they have at the time. If you do that, the rest will take care of itself.'