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Levine Lecture: Stew Leonard

By Press Release
On February 23, 2005

Stew Leonard Jr., the president and CEO of Stew Leonard's, will teach a lesson from his business' success story as speaker at the University of Bridgeport's Walter Levine Lecture Series on Leadership and Lifelong Learning on Wednesday (Feb. 23).
The title of Leonard's talk is "Why Is the Customer Always Right? Lessons Learned from Running Stew Leonard's - The Disneyland of Grocery Stores." He'll speak at 6 p.m. in the Littlefield Theater of the Arnold Bernhard Arts and Humanities Center, University and Iranistan avenues. The event is sponsored by UB's Business School Club. It is free and open to the general public.
Leonard grew up in his family's dairy business, and remembers working in it as a child, standing on a milk case and cleaning out day-old cream cans. His father, receiving a Small Business Administration loan, opened a retail dairy store in 1969 with seven employees. Stew worked there, stocking shelves, making ice cream and checking out shoppers at the cash register.
Stew went to Ithaca College and graduated with a degree in accounting in 1976. He went on to earn his MBA at the University of California at Los Angeles. Stew continued to work in the store and by 1982, he was promoted to president. His training, Stew said, was to work side-by-side with his father in the trenches of this $40 million a year family business.
By 1991, Stew was promoted to add the title of CEO and took over the reins from his father. Since then, Stew Leonard's has taken the fresh dairy concept and expanded into meats, fish, produce, bakery, cheese and wine. And, in addition to its headquarters store in Norwalk, Stew Leonard's has stores in Danbury and Yonkers, N.Y., with a fourth store planned for this year. The company now has annual sales of nearly $300 million and employs close to 2,000 people.
Stew Leonard Jr. says his management style is based on the acronym S.T.E.W.: Satisfy the customer, work together as a team, strive for excellence at everything you do, and get the customer to say "Wow."
It obviously pays off. Besides its impressive growth, Stew Leonard's has been recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in each of the past three years.

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