Ralph Ketner, Co-Founder of Food Lion, passed away this past Sunday at 95 years of age, leaving behind a legacy of placing the building blocks for the now 1,100 store chain.
Beginning in 1957, Ketner opened his first Food Town grocery store in Salisbury, N.C., cold-calling people right out of the phone book and asking for as small as $50 or $100 investments with the help of his brother, Brown Ketner, and Wilson Smith. These approximately 125 investors ended up with about a $1 million return on their investor, according to Food Lion.
"He had a profound and lasting impact on the entire grocery industry and he has left a tremendous legacy not only at Food Lion, but through his philanthropy and kindness in the Salisbury community as a whole,” the company shared in a written statement. “Forever a welcome and vital part of our family, even at 95 years old, Mr. Ketner still attended several Food Lion events. Our associates adored and respected him and we will miss him dearly.”
Ketner was a pioneer behind Food Lion's now famous, “lowest food prices in North Carolina” or “LFPINC” campaign. According to the Charlotte Observer, sales made a massive jump following the plan's implementation, from $5 million to $7.2 billion in 25 years.
Ketner retired from the grocery chain in the early 1990s, and since served as both a member of the board of trustees and an adjunct professor for the Ketner School of Business at Catawba College.
The Charlotte Observer estimates that Ketner has donated 35 percent of his net worth to various charities over the years, donating $1 million in 2011 to help pay for an upgrade at a Queens University of Charlotte auditorium that bears his name. He also benefited the Levine Center, a health and wellness center on the Queens campus.
The Salisbury Post reports that services will be held on Sunday, June 5, 2:30 p.m., at Keppel Auditorium on the Catawba College campus.
The DeliMarket News team would like to extend our deepest condolences to Ketner’s family, friends, and those affected by this loss.