SN'S SECOND POWER 50 RANKING AND HOW IT WAS DONE

Welcome to this week's big and unusual issue of SN: the second annual Power 50 ranking of industry icons of influence.The objective of this week's issue is to profile 50 individuals -- spanning numerous industry sectors -- who through their actions are making a difference in food distribution, manufacturing and allied activities. Generally, those on the list not only command their own enterprise,

Welcome to this week's big and unusual issue of SN: the second annual Power 50 ranking of industry icons of influence.

The objective of this week's issue is to profile 50 individuals -- spanning numerous industry sectors -- who through their actions are making a difference in food distribution, manufacturing and allied activities. Generally, those on the list not only command their own enterprise, but also are making a broader difference. As an example, Safeway's Steve Burd has fundamentally changed the management-labor dynamic in the supermarket industry and in other industries, too. To be sure, it's a matter of hotly contested debate whether the change he drove bodes good or ill, but there's no doubt his influence is large and will be enduring. So he's the third-ranking power player and first among conventional supermarket executives.

We'll take a closer look at the list, but first let's specify how the list was compiled. As was the case when SN's initial Power 50 ran last year at this time, the initial step taken by SN editors was to elicit nominations from our most important constituency, readers. We put a survey on the Internet, ran a pop-up box on SN's daily news broadcast, and promoted the project in these pages. In the end, we received a sizable number of nominations. In a way, those who participated in the process are power players in their own right.

The nomination slate was then winnowed by SN editors with an eye to all that has happened in the past year. To cite an example of how events can influence the list, new to the list this year is an aggregation: shareholders. They stand as a proxy for corporate governance matters that are all too prominent now. Shareholders are 37th on the list. Let's hope that by this time next year, such issues will be under control and that the slot can be otherwise occupied.

As you'll see by reading the column below, there has been a considerable turn rate in the Power 50 ranking. No fewer than 17 new power players joined the list this year. An equal number were retired, of course. Mention is made of all newcomers on Page 22. Confession: To some extent, the listing and delisting process is more subjective than objective, as is the entire ranking.

Incidentally, there is another aggregation -- like shareholders -- on the list: consumers. They are the ones, after all, who are the ultimate boss in any business and the reason business exists. Consumers are No. 1 on the Power 50 list.

You'll see one more refinement on Page 23. It's a chart that shows the eight categories of activity represented on the list and an internal ranking of those comprising the categories. The chart allows for intra-category comparisons to be made, along with comparisons to current rankings against last year's overall and category rankings.

Finally, it should be further confessed that many individuals not on the Power 50 are influential and deserve to be on it. That's why we intend to be back at this time next year with the third annual Power 50. It's all about continuous improvement.