Kroger is the largest traditional grocery retailer in the country, with locations in more than 30 states. Founded in Cincinnati in 1883, the company still calls the Queen City home and is a proud and active member of the Greater Cincinnati community.
Ken Pray is the corporate director of store design for The Kroger Company. Ken is also a member of the Board of Trustees for AFC. For 20 years he has led the store planning and interior design group responsible for designing prototypes, expansion, and remodel projects for the Kroger network of stores.
When asked, “What inspired you to work in the built environment?” Ken responded, “The built and visual environment has always held an emotional connection for me. Starting with sculptural and kinetic greeting cards as a teenager to tree houses and personal art studios later, then architecture and multiple personal house renovations, and eventually supermarkets. Art led to architecture during college and the need for career experience led to retail design.”
Although supermarket design is not quite the “Howard Roark thing to do,” Ken enjoys the creative license he is given to do his job, in addition to the opportunity to interact on a daily basis with fellow associates that are top in their field.
Life as a supermarket designer is rewarding for Ken, who is motivation by the realization that everyday he impacts 7 million Kroger customers. Even if they are not aware of this, it is an awesome responsibility and a humbling inspiration. Ken is also inspired by change, surprise, and the fact that good design never repeats itself. That is what is fun about retail: it has to change. That is also why Ken’s favorite project is always…the next one.