Person:Benjamin Schwartz (3)

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Benjamin "Ben" Schwartz, Grocery Industry Executive & Visionary
m. 1910
  1. Mildred "Mollie" Schwartz1911 - 2013
  2. Abraham "Abe" Schwartz1915 - 2006
  3. Benjamin "Ben" Schwartz, Grocery Industry Executive & Visionary1917 - 2020
m. 27 September 1939
Facts and Events
Name Benjamin "Ben" Schwartz, Grocery Industry Executive & Visionary
Gender Male
Birth? 8 July 1917 Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
Marriage 27 September 1939 Californiato Sara Francis "Sara" Dworkin
Death? 1 October 2020 Los Angeles County, California


About Benjamin "Ben" Schwartz

Benjamin "Ben" Schwartz was born 8 July 1917 in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, the son of Max Schwartz (1891-1971) and Sarah "Sara" Lipshutz (abt. 1890-1920), both immigrants from Russia [later Ukraine]. According to the 1920 United States Census, Max Schwartz immigrated to America in 1904 and Sarah in 1905. They married in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania in 1910. [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Marriages 1852-1968]. In the 1920 U.S. Census, Max Schwartz [age 30], his wife Sara [age 30] and their children Mollie [age 8], Abraham [age 4] and Benjamin [age 2], along with Sarah's brother, David Lipshutz [age 23], were listed as living in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. Max Schwartz is listed as the owner [keeper] of a Grocery store, a corner grocery store in Philadelphia Prior to 1922, Ben's mother, Sarah died in 1919 in Philadelphia and Ben's father Max re-married Frieda Kramer on 22 December 1922 in Los Angeles County, California.

On 27 September 1939, Ben Schwartz married Sarah Francis "Sara" Dworkin in California [California Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1849-1980]. They lived in Boyle Heights for several years. Prior to 1940, Ben had moved his way up to Manager in his father's Retail Grocery Store as he was listed in the 1940 U.S. Census. On 30 December 1941, Ben Schwartz completed his World War II Draft Registration Card, listing his father Max as his family contact.

Ben and his older brother Abraham "Abe" would work together to build their father's grocery store into a well-known and respected family supermarket business, which later grew into a popular 16-store chain called "Foods Co.", which would come to be known as one of the most innovative retail companies in Southern California. It regularly featured some of the newest ideas in the grocery business—thanks largely to Ben Schwartz, who traveled around the world in search of new products, services and selling techniques that he could implement in his stores. [Shelby Report, 25 July 2015]

In 1955, Max Schwartz, Abe Schwartz and Ben Schwartz were listed as "co-partners" of Foods Co. in legal documents [Records and Briefs of the United States Supreme Court, October Term 1955] in a suit of many grocery chains in California against the Retail Clerks Union Local 770. Prior to 1963, Ben Schwartz had been promoted to Vice President of Foods Co. markets and was a director and member of the buying committee of Certified Grocers, the wholesale cooperative grocery distributor that Ben had convinced his father to join when he was just 15 years old in 1933. [Quick Frozen Foods, Volume 25, February 1963]. In the 1970's, Ben was promoted again to President of Foods Co. markets and guided the company to be a leading independent grocery chain in the greater Los Angeles market.

When Foods Co. was sold in 1987, Schwartz got on board with his former company’s wholesaler, Certified Grocers, as a consultant. It goes without saying that he knew the business. Ben shared his knowledge of the grocery industry with many, he taught retail classes at UCLA and frequently served as a guest speaker for many food industry organizations throughout his career.

Ben Schwartz served as a Director of Certified Grocers of California for more than 40 years, including four years as chairman. [Certified Grocers would later became Unified Grocers, which was acquired by Supervalu in 2017]. Ben also worked for the grocery industry at the national level by serving in leadership positions for many years at the Food Marketing Institute [FMI] 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” was on permanent display in the lobby of Supervalu’s Commerce, California, offices. [Shelby Report, 18 July 2017].

Ben Schwartz passed away peacefully on October 1, 2020 at age 103. Ben was a loving husband [his wife Sara pre-deceased him in 2010], father to son Bill and daughter Candy, grandfather and great-grandfather. Ben was a model of integrity, principles and values, and was an exceptionally kind and generous person. His contributions to the grocery industry are many; he was a friend and mentor to many and will never be forgotten.

Image Gallery
References
  1.   United States. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. (Ancestry.com [database online], 2011).

    Name: Ben Schwartz
    Gender: Male
    Race: White
    Age: 23
    Relationship to Draftee: Self (Head)
    Birth Date: 8 Jul 1917
    Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    Residence Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
    Registration Date: 16 Oct 1940
    Registration Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
    Employer: Max Schwartz
    Weight: 173
    Complexion: Light Brown
    Eye Color: Hazel
    Hair Color: Brown
    Height: 6 2
    Next of Kin: Max Schwartz
    Household Members: Name Relationship
    Ben Schwartz Self (Head)
    Max Schwartz Father

    Image:Ben Schwartz WWII Draft Registration Card.png

  2.   United States. 1920 U.S. Census Population Schedule. (National Archives Microfilm Publication T625).

    Name: Benjamin Swartz
    Age: 2
    Birth Year: abt 1918
    Birthplace: Pennsylvania
    Home in 1920: Philadelphia Ward 29, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Street: Clifford Street
    Residence Date: 1920
    Race: White
    Gender: Male
    Relation to Head of House: Son
    Marital status: Single
    Father's Name: Max Swartz
    Father's Birthplace: Russia
    Mother's Name: Sara Swartz
    Mother's Birthplace: Russia
    Occupation: None
    Household Members: Name Age
    Max Swartz 30
    Sara Swartz 30
    Mollie Swartz 8
    Abraham Swartz 4
    Benjamin Swartz 2
    David Lipschultz 23

  3.   United States. 1930 U.S. Census Population Schedule. (National Archives Microfilm Publication T626).

    Name: Benjamin Schwartz
    Birth Year: abt 1917
    Gender: Male
    Race: White
    Birthplace: Pennsylvania
    Marital status: Single
    Relation to Head of House: Son
    Home in 1930: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
    Street Address: Blanchard St
    Block: 480
    House Number: 2719
    Dwelling Number: 172
    Family Number: 174
    Attended School: Yes
    Able to Read and Write: Yes
    Father's Birthplace: Russia
    Mother's Birthplace: Russia
    Able to Speak English: Yes
    Household Members: Name Age
    Max Schwartz 39
    Frieda Schwartz 42
    Mildred Schwartz 18
    Abraham Schwartz 15
    Benjamin Schwartz 13
    Jock Makin 23

  4.   United States. 1940 U.S. Census Population Schedule. (National Archives Microfilm Publication T627).

    Name: Benjamin Schwartz
    Respondent: Yes
    Age: 22
    Estimated Birth Year: abt 1918
    Gender: Male
    Race: White
    Birthplace: Pennsylvania
    Marital Status: Married
    Relation to Head of House: Head
    Home in 1940: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    Street: South Kingsley Drive
    House Number: 1211
    Farm: No
    Inferred Residence in 1935: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    Residence in 1935: Los Angeles
    Resident on farm in 1935: No
    Sheet Number: 13A
    Number of Household in Order of Visitation: 399
    Occupation: Manager, Retail Grocery Store
    House Owned or Rented: Rented
    Value of Home or Monthly Rental if Rented: 22
    Attended School or College: No
    Highest Grade Completed: High School, 4th year
    Hours Worked Week Prior to Census: 60
    Class of Worker: Working on own account
    Weeks Worked in 1939: 52
    Income: 0
    Income Other Sources: Yes
    Household Members Age Relationship
    Benjamin Schwartz 22 Head
    Sara D Schwartz 20 Wife

  5.   Grocery Industry ‘Visionary’ Ben Schwartz Celebrates 100th Birthday, in The Shelby Report
    18 July 2017.

    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.

    https://www.theshelbyreport.com/2017/07/18/schwartz-100th-birthday/

  6.   Future Bright For Independents That Have Right Attitude, According To ‘Visionary’ Ben Schwartz, in The Shelby Report
    25 July 2015.

    It could be said that groceryman Ben Schwartz has good genes. His brother was 93 when he passed away several years ago. His sister was 102 at the time of her death. Schwartz turned 98 on July 8. He credits hard work and exercise, as well as “no drinking, no smoking, no coffee,” for his good health and longevity.

    “Love what you do, too,” adds Schwartz. “Keep working.”

    As for Schwartz, he’s been working—and always in the grocery business—practically his entire life.

    His father, a European immigrant, owned a corner store in Philadelphia in the early 1900s. Eventually the family headed West, and his father “winds up with another grocery store similar to the type of store we had in Philadelphia,” Schwartz tells The Shelby Report.

    “Our first store here (in Southern California) was in 1922, an independent,” he says.

    Over the years that single store grew into a popular 16-store chain called Foods Co., which would come to be known as one of the most innovative retail companies in Southern California. It regularly featured some of the newest ideas in the grocery business—thanks largely to Schwartz, who traveled around the world in search of new products, services and selling techniques that he could implement in his stores.

    When Foods Co. was sold in 1987, Schwartz got on board with his former company’s wholesaler, Certified Grocers, as a consultant. (Schwartz, when he was just 15 years old in 1933, had convinced his father to join Certified Grocers. It goes without saying that he knows the business.) Schwartz also is a former Certified board chairman and has served on numerous other boards and committees.

    “Today I’m available to the independent retailers for consultation and assistance, pricing strategy,” Schwartz says. “Pricing is really my specialty. I also do strategy and concepts.”

    Certified Grocers today, of course, is known as Unified Grocers, which supplies independents retailers throughout the western U.S.

    Focused, ready-to-compete independents will win the game

    Few people understand the grocery business better than Schwartz. Unified Grocers knows this and, a decade ago, named an annual award after him—the Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award.

    The award is given to an independent retail grocer or grocery company that is a leader and innovator in the retail grocery industry. It recognizes retailers who, by their practice and example, have consistently demonstrated initiative, creativity and leadership within their businesses and, in the process, have inspired others to think and act creatively and with passion in the grocery field.

    Recent recipients include grocery leaders like Rudy and Debbie Dory and their daughter Lauren Johnson—owners of Newport Avenue Market in Bend, Oregon—and Anaheim-based Northgate Gonzalez Markets.

    “The award carries the name of a true retail visionary,” says Unified Grocers President and CEO Bob Ling. “The idea behind it is to recognize someone in our retail community who exemplifies the spirit and character Ben Schwartz has demonstrated throughout his long career.”

    And Schwartz’s career continues, though it could be considered more challenging than ever. Certainly, the food retail marketplace—especially in Southern California where Schwartz lives—has never been so competitive.

    “…What I’m trying to do now is tell the story of the competitiveness of the Southern California market—that if the independents don’t stand up and fly right, they’ll be history. We have now, besides Walmart, Target and WinCo, everybody else here, and Aldi coming—one of the toughest guys in the country. I’ve watched these guys for many years.”

    Aldi, a limited-assortment, exclusive brand retailer, plans to open its first California stores in March 2016.

    Aldi’s entry into the Southern California market, however, isn’t necessarily bad news for independents—as long as they’re proactive and responsive, Schwartz says.

    “Our innovative new things come from the smaller, independent retailers,” he says. “You look back at who were the pioneers who came up with the new innovative ideas—it was the independent sector.

    “It’s very hard to beat the independents when the independents are focused,” Schwartz adds.

    “Adaptation and execution” will be key for independents to thrive in the future. This will involve independents “giving the customer what they want,” he says. “The guy who can do that the best is the one that’s going to get the business.”

    Schwartz sets Costco as an example for independents to emulate when it comes to that notion.

    “Costco, I think, is the best retail format that’s ever been developed,” he says. “They’ve developed some first-class concepts, and they’ve stayed with it. They haven’t deviated. They don’t disappoint customers.”

    Many independents, too, already do well at adaptation and execution, he notes.

    San Bernardino-based Stater Bros. Markets, for example, is led by “one of the smartest guys I ever met,” Schwartz says.

    He’s referring to Stater Bros. Chairman and CEO Jack H. Brown.

    “He’s put together maybe one of the best management teams in the grocery business anywhere,” Schwartz says of Brown. “And just the idea that he has been able to survive in one of the toughest markets in the country for all these years is just a credit to him and his people. They’ve been able to be competitive. They’ve done business. It’s a rarity that they ever close a store, and anybody’s who’s watched them over the years really understands what they do and what they stand for.”

    The right wholesaler can make the difference

    Schwartz mentions he would be remiss if he didn’t point out that behind every good retailer is a good wholesaler.

    That’s why he values his duties at Unified.

    “When (Foods Co.) joined Certified, Certified was a dry grocery distributor,” Schwartz says. “Now (at Unified) there’s frozen, deli, bakery, milk, specialty foods—there are very few things we don’t have. And we probably have the best specialty distribution system of anybody in the country—distribution of Hispanic products, etc.”

    Unified’s Market Centre division, led by Joe Falvey, distributes, sells and markets specialty, natural and ethnic foods, as well as candy, general merchandise and seasonal products, and services.

    The Hispanic population, and its demand for authentic Hispanic products, continues to grow—especially in Southern California.

    Unified’s Hispanic retailers do well, according to Schwartz.

    “(Most of their customers) are Hispanic. They like to be recognized. They like to have people of their own nationality serving them. They love the service meat, which our guys provide. They give them the kind of produce they want at the price that fits their needs.”

    That kind of service and customization leads to differentiation, which is, perhaps, the most important point Schwartz wants to get across to food retailers these days.

    “Everything today is about the point of differentiation,” he says. “Why should I shop with you? You’ve got to have something for people. Or why should they come into your shop?”

    https://www.theshelbyreport.com/2015/07/25/future-bright-for-independents-that-have-right-attitude-according-to-visionary-ben-schwartz/

  7.   Legacy.com.

    Ben Schwartz

    Born in Philadelphia on July 8, 1917 and died peacefully on October 1, 2020 at the age of 103. Raised in Boyle Heights, he worked in his father's corner grocery store from an early age. Together with his brother, Abe, they built a well known and respected family supermarket business. He dedicated much of his knowledge, experience and energy to independent grocers through his work at Certified/Unified Grocers. He received national recognition, honors and awards for his contributions to the industry. Loving husband to Sara who predeceased him. Survived by his son Bill (Beverly) and daughter Candy (Ted Gerstl) his six grandchildren, two great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. A giant of a man, model of integrity, principles and values, an exceptionally kind and generous person who always did the right thing...simply a wonderful person.

    https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=ben-schwartz&pid=196893626