Jacob Cadwallader – Stater Bros
Perseverance Guides His Career
Jacob Cadwallader grew up in Yucaipa, which is a small city about 10 miles east of San Bernardino. His parents divorced when he was five years old and he credits his mom with giving him the work ethic that has served him well through life, education and his work experience.
“My father was a nurse for several different hospitals while my mom worked many different part-time jobs as she raised my sister and me,” he said. “She was the motivating factor in my life. She taught me what it meant to work hard and the philosophy to do what you have to do to make it work.”
Jake worked hard in high school and did very well. His hard work gave him the opportunity to attend the nearby University of Redland. “All through high school, I was driven by the desire to do something bigger. I had big goals for myself. I was very much money-motivated as I knew my mom needed help and I wanted to help her.”
This desire turned into a passion to help others and had Jake majoring in psychology in college. “I loved human psychology…and still do. I thought I would become a school psychologist. I love people and thought that was a field where I could help others and be bigger than myself.”
To help ends meet, Jake began working at Stater Bros Markets at age 16 in 1993 while in high school, and continued working while at Redlands. He started as a courtesy clerk and started working his way up the ladder. “I had a very good store manager who believed strongly in cross training,” Jake recalls.
Consequently, he worked as a checker and on the stock crew and in several other slots in his first few years. “At one point he put me in the milk box, and I hated it. I complained and he told me he would move me to produce but I had to sink or swim on my own,: he said. “I loved it. Working the sales floor was very gratifying. After you work a display, you can step back and get a sense of completion. You accomplished something; it’s great.”
In the late 1990s, he was a produce clerk and a college student, doing both fulltime. “My dad passed away my senior year in college and I got sidetracked. I took a leave of absence but planned to go back and finish my education.”
At the same time, his retail produce career was going well. He moved up the ranks, learned a lot and in 2002 was promoted to produce manager. “Store number 55 in Grand Terrace was my first manager position,” he recalls.
Jake stayed there for two or three years and then became store manager of a new Stater Bros., where he worked from 2006 to 2011. In 2011, he became a produce supervisor, with 20 stores under his purview. In 2017, he moved to the buying office, becoming the vegetable buyer. He is currently Stater Bros. fruit buyer, sharing the buying duties with David Martes, who buys all the value added and UPC items, and vegetable buyer Brian Sahargun. The department of course, includes Senior Director of Produce Marketing Don Gann and Division Director Walt Fillip.
Once he moved into management, Jacob Cadwallader was able to create time to go back to the University of Redlands and finish his senior year. “I graduated in 2016,” he says proudly, crediting Stater Bros, with encouraging and assisting in that quest.
On the personal side, Jake and his wife Tracy have two children — 18 year old Kolby, who is studying to be an air traffic controller at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Az, and four year-old Henry, who is no doubt studying at home like every other member of his generation during these COVID-19 times.
Jake spends his spare time on lots of family activities, including riding bikes and heading to the beach. “Music is also a huge passion of mine,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was 18. I’ve taken lots of lessons and have played in a number of bands over the years.”
His instrument is the drums. Of course, he wanted to be a star, but “that really didn’t pan out. I now play with a group of guys that get together about every six weeks. We play at clubs and bars and weddings. I love to create music. I love to entertain but we also try to be impactful…and cool with our music.”
Speaking in mid-April when the Covid-19 pandemic was approaching its peak in California, Cadwallader said it was very much impacting Stater Bros. business. The produce buying staff was still coming into the office, though working at home was an option. He noted that the first week of the shelter-in-place order “everything was chaotic. We didn’t know what was going to sell.”
Panic buying on the part of the shoppers did take place and Stater Bros. quickly partnered with a handful of produce distributors to help it execute the supply chain with direct store deliveries to deal with the surge in business. While the first few weeks were hectic, in mid-April Cadwallader said buying habits were starting to get back to normal, but there were still differences. “The run on potatoes caught everyone by surprise,” he said. “Sales have started to back off but we are still selling a lot more than we used to.”
He also noted that bagged items were being purchased in large numbers. “And citrus sales are off the charts,” he said.
In total, Cadwallader said the produce department continues to post good numbers but he noted that the commitment by the company goes way beyond achieving good sales. “We feel a deep sense of responsibility to the community,” he said. “Right now, we are in a position to help folks and that is what we are concentrating on.”