That box-boy job in 1960 was supposed to be just for the summer, Schroeder said.
“It has been a long summer,” he said.
Schroder, 66, has been the vice president of produce for Colton, Calif.-based Stater Bros. Markets for the past 13 years. Before that, he was vice president of produce at Hughes Markets Inc. and got his start at Vons, a banner of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway.
Schroeder’s arrival at Stater Bros. started a transformation in its produce departments, said Connie Stukenberg of Irvine, Calif.-based Sales and Marketing for Results.
“Roger welcomes new and innovative ideas and products from his supplier partners and he is not afraid to give new marketing programs and merchandising methods a new chance,” Stuckenberg said.
Schroeder is known for his willingness to try new ideas, such as reusable plastic containers, or new varieties, such as the Ambrosia apple.
Stater Bros. was the first retailer in Southern California to implement these programs.
“Seven years ago, nobody had heard of an Ambrosia,” Schroeder said.
“Today, it’s a solid member of the apple category and a favorite of our shoppers.”
Schroeder also is generous with his time for industry organizations, serving three times as chairman of the Fresh Produce and Floral Council and twice as chairman of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.
Carissa Mace, president of the La Mirada, Calif.-based FPFC, said Schroeder is the only repeat in the organization’s history.
“He knows the history of the organization but is never stuck in the past,” she said.
“He always has new ideas. If there’s an ideal board member, it’s him. He’s a good steward for our organization and the industry.”
Schroeder said getting involved in organizations such as PBH and FPFC is “a little selfish on my part.”
“I always get more than I give in each one,” he said.
“The opportunity to network with people locally or across the U.S. is invaluable. If you take advantage of the learning opportunities at each organization, it will help you in your job.”
Schroeder also is involved with fundraising for the City of Hope cancer center and received that organization’s Spirit of Life award in 2004.
He also was The Packer’s Produce Marketer of the Year in 1994 and was named the 2011 Produce Retailer of the Year by The Packer’s sister publication Produce Retailer magazine.