• Volume 18 Number 2
    Spring 2009


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Ron Rice, BS ’57
 Osprey, Fla.  •  Profiled: Spring ’98

Retired grocery executive

Although Ron Rice has been retired since 1998, his Purdue Agriculture degree is still paying dividends.

“Just last week, here in Florida, I met a lady from Indiana. During casual conversation, she asked if I went to I.U. When I told her no, that I went to Purdue, she said, ‘Oh, you must be very smart.’”

Maybe too smart for his own good. All he really wanted to do after he earned his dairy management degree was to run a dairy plant for Kroger.

But in Rice, Kroger found a man far too talented to be responsible for just one company facility.

By the time he was 32, he had ascended to the rank of general manager of Kroger’s old Indianapolis dairy. Three years later, he helped open and manage its replacement, the largest fluid milk/ice cream dairy in the U.S.

For Kroger, Rice was the Joe DiMaggio of profitability. His plants recorded profit in over 400 consecutive four-week reporting periods. That’s just short of 31 years!

Rice spent the final 25 years of his career in the corporate office, eventually rising to the rank of president of manufacturing and senior corporate vice president with supervisory responsibility for 28 manufacturing plants, purchasing, research and development, and quality control.

As he did throughout his career, Rice continues to lavish praise on the university that gave him his start, saying his Purdue degree “means my whole career.”

“A Purdue Ag degree can offer you more career diversity than almost any other degree. You are not limited to the narrow path that many believe that ‘agriculture’ means. Our expertise is and will be needed worldwide as other countries develop and improve their lifestyles and food requirements.”