Jim Lee, president and COO, Stater Bros. Markets and Vic Chiono, VP, sales, West U.S., Coca-Cola Refreshments, were inducted into the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation Hall of Achievement last week during a ceremony in Pomona, Calif.
“This year’s inductees are true icons of our industry,” said CGAEF president Ronald Fong. “Their unwavering dedication to the success of our industry, and their unselfish and devoted commitment to the communities they serve make both individuals worthy recipients of this year’s award.”
The Foundation’s Hall of Achievement was created in 1993, and recognizes California grocery retailers and suppliers who have contributed substantially to the advancement of the grocery industry. The annual award dinner and fundraising event raised more than $500,000, which will fund the Foundation’s College Scholarship and Career Development programs. This year, the Foundation will award 294 college scholarships totaling $330,750.
Lee joined Stater Bros. Markets as group SVP of retail operations in 2002, bringing to the company more than 30 years of experience in the supermarket industry. He began his grocery career with Ralphs Grocery Company in Southern California in 1972 as a clerk’s helper. He was promoted to various positions during his 25 years at the company including store manager; district manager; VP of store operations administration; and VP, store operations, Northern Division and Southern Division. His last position with Ralphs was group VP of its Central Division, which led the divisions in sales volume.
Prior to joining Stater Bros., Lee was the president and COO, from 1996 to 2001, of Wild Oats Markets, Inc., which at the time was the second largest chain of natural foods supermarkets in North America with annual sales of over $1 billion. During Lee’s time with Wild Oats, he helped the company go public and oversaw a 600 percent increase in sales.
In 2008, Lee was honored by Azusa Pacific University with the Academic Hall of Honor Award. The USC Marshall School of Business Food Industry Management (FIM) Program named Lee the Food Industry Executive of the Year in 2010. Most recently, he received the 2011 Humanitarian Award from The California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ) for his longtime dedication and service to the Food Industry.
Chiono is area VP of sales for Coca-Cola Refreshments, with responsibilities for the Central and West U.S. He has been in sales and sales marketing for over 36 years, completing over 26 years with Coca-Cola, holding numerous sales and management positions.
He started in the grocery industry at the age of 10 sorting bottles and sweeping the parking lots of his father’s Safeway store, and worked through high school and college as a checker and shelf stocker. After graduating from San Jose State University, he began his career by joining Unilever as a sales representative selling food, health and beauty products to 135 retail stores.
In 1987, after obtaining several management positions within Unilever, Chiono joined Coca-Cola where he has enjoyed a successful career selling all Minute Maid, Gold Peak, Simply Beverages and juice drink products. From 1996 to 1999, he shifted his focus to the Food Service division within Coca-Cola, establishing Minute Maid products as a staple in restaurants, theme parks and hotel chains.
The CGA Educational Foundation Hall of Achievement provides the food industry with the opportunity to recognize the achievements of those individuals who, through their foresight and dedication, have enhanced California’s food distribution industry. Its mission is to provide financial assistance to advance the educational goals of CGA member company employees and their dependents and offer educational programs to advance the grocery industry.