John Huffman, at 18 began working the night shift at a Safeway manufacturing plant in North Texas, while earning his bachelor’s in food chemistry from Southeastern State University. The year was 1953. By 1969 he had risen through the ranks to the position plant general manager overseeing five production facilities at Safeway. After a short employment with Frito Lay in Houston, in 1970 he went to work at the wholesale distributor Fleming in Topeka, Kansas, and later moved with them to Oklahoma City. Ushering a change that would have historic impact on the private label industry, John led a realignment of company priorities as Fleming shifted focus from the vertical integration of manufacturing units to the horizontal integration of its private brands along with its acquisition of regional wholesalers. He supervised the construction of a fully equipped product testing laboratory and creation of the in-house Quality Assurance team to develop and execute manufacturing specs for a 1,200-item assortment. With the advent of bar codes and scanners, he took responsibility for the transition to category management for Fleming’s private brands throughout its retail operations. John retired from Fleming in 1995, having held the position of senior vice president of procurement and marketing in charge of both national brands and private label.