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Distinguished Speaker series beginning
Alumnus, grocery chain mogul first speaker
Dr. Ralph Ketner, a Tri-State accounting alumnus and co-founder of Food Lion, a 1,300-store chain in the mid-Atlantic and southeast United States, will kick off Trine University’s 2009-2010 Distinguished Speaker series on Friday, Oct. 2 in Best Hall room 229. The presentation is part of the university’s Homecoming weekend celebration of 125 years in higher education.
Ketner founded Food Town, later to become Food Lion, in Salisbury, N.C. in 1957. He came to Trine, then Tri-State College and later Tri-State University, to attend school in 1937 at age 17. Orphaned by his parents’ deaths during the Great Depression, he nonetheless possessed what he describes in his book, “Five Fast Pennies,” as a different attitude and point of view. “I saw problems as opportunities in disguise. I saw a lemon and made lemonade. I started thinking before starting to work. I never had ambitious goals for myself, but have always done my very best on every job,” he writes.
He will share his remarkable ability to make mental mathematical calculations, which he used to cut costs in the grocery business and vault Food Lion to the top. He will intersperse the demonstration of mathematics skills with vignettes from his life with one goal in mind, as he states in the book: “To encourage our young people to dream and dream BIG!”
“Several years ago, I had the opportunity to hear an extemporaneous hour-long monologue about the indescribable pleasure to be derived from a lifelong devotion to controlling costs. The speaker was one of the true masters of the art, Ralph Ketner, co-founder of Food Lion Inc., the $7-billion supermarket chain based in Salisbury, N.C. His talk was mesmerizing and energizing,” said George Gendron, editor-in-chief of INC magazine.
Dr. Ketner is a benefactor of Trine University’s Ketner School of Business, and has made numerous contributions to charities and organizations throughout the country and world. He served as Tri-State University’s commencement speaker in 1982, when he received an honorary doctorate. Now retired, the business mogul keeps an office at Catawba College in Salisbury, where he is a consultant to the business school.
The university community can meet Dr. Ketner at a reception with free refreshments from 3:30-4 p.m. at the west end of the Best Hall corridor. Dr. Ketner’s presentation will follow from 4-5 p.m. in Best Hall room 229, and is free and open to the public.