Kenton Gast was among the earliest advocates for private label. At the time, Ken was the procurement director for Kroger Brands, a position he held from 1975 until 1983, when he was promoted to vice president of Kroger Brands procurement. In a career distinguished by many firsts, he served as the first chairman of PLMA’s Retailer Advisory Committee. In 1985, he became vice president of procurement for Kroger manufacturing, where he initiated the consolidation of procurement departments for Kroger manufacturing with the outside procurement of Kroger Brands finished goods. Under his leadership, Kroger introduced open-date coding – another first − with “Sell-By” dates on selected grocery items to ensure a consistent quality experience for the purchasers of Kroger store brands. Ken retired in 1986 after 32 years at Kroger, but his early and steadfast support of and groundbreaking contributions helped pave the way for today’s private label industry.