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Tractor Supply’s Christopher: Chef & animal lover

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Tractor Supply’s Christopher: Chef & animal lover

Pets offered for adoption Saturday at Ripon's Tractor Company saw manager Rob Christopher cradling a black lab pup who was getting some curious attention from an older gray Poodle/Schnauzer mix nam...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin/


POSTED March 24, 2009 4:25 a.m.
RIPON — Preparing five-course meals for 25 family members on holidays is old hat for Tractor Supply Company manager Rob Christopher.

“I’m a five-course kinda guy – not seven. I’m more about let’s get to the dessert,” he chuckled. “I like French food, soups, different type of meat and comfort food,” he said.

Cooking is something his family has always done and, up to this day, he still has a passion for it – “it’s something I can do and relax when I’m doing it,” he said.

Learning his skills at the Culinary School of San Francisco, Christopher said he is usually the one who puts dinner on the table at home most nights. As for his wife, Kristi, he said he cooks and she cleans up – it’s a deal they worked out years ago. She is employed by Gallo Winery where she has been for the last 28 years.

Named manager of the year last year at the Oakdale store, he is also showing his love for animals by opening his doors to a pet rescue operation called PETS (People Ending the Slaughter) with their adoptable dogs and cats.

Rescued horses will be in the parking lot on the first and third Saturdays in April – also up for adoption as part of Christopher’s concerned community involvement.

Six dogs were adopted out of the Tractor Supply Co. parking lot on Saturday including three adult dogs, a Chihuahua, a long-haired Dachshund and a chocolate lab mix. Another cage contained a litter of black Lab puppies.

The PETS’ staff says they have two pure bred Dachshunds, named “Oscar” and “Lucy,” that a passerby saw being abandoned near the Delta in Stockton. They said the owner was seen removing the dogs’ collars, and turning them loose to fend for themselves. “They would have been coyote bait that night if he hadn’t picked them up,” the staffer said.

PETS can be reached through PetsAdoption@aol.com or the website at www.petrescue.webs.com.

Started milking cows as 4-year-old

The Tractor Supply Company manager played just about every sport in high school. He’s definitely a “people person” who grew up on a dairy, and began milking cows every morning at 3 a.m. – starting at just four years old.

“I don’t ever remember not doing it – you just get out there and do it,” he said. “At one time we had a 200 head herd of Swedish cows—Swedish jerseys – is what we milked.” It was a chore he had on the family farm all through high school. “I grew up on a farm – we cared for things,” he said. It obviously prepared him well for his day-to-day demands.

He also raised Duroc pigs for show, was a member of FFA, took leadership classes, and played football, baseball and basketball at Tokay High School – with positions at first base, tight end in football, and strong forward in basketball.  Christopher was All Conference four years in a row. In his senior year he made All Conference for being a DH.

After high school and some Ag Science classes at the junior college level, followed by the culinary school, he went to work for Anheuser-Busch Beer Inc. in Stockton as their merchandising/routing manager. “I wound up being there for 14 years,” he said. Christopher then worked at Schemper’s ACE Hardware for some seven years – four years at the Ripon store and about three years in Patterson.

Christopher has been with the Tractor Supply for three years starting in Oroville followed by a stint in Ukiah, Turlock and managing the store in Oakdale for the last 14 months. When he got back to Ripon he was managing both stores until January 20.

He personally opened the Oakdale and Ripon stores, hiring staff members, and assisting in opening the Ukiah store.  Christopher was recognized as a manager of the year for the Oakdale store just last week in Tennessee ceremonies – out of 450 stores. That included “outstanding performing store” and as a manager of the year recognition for the region.

It’s more than a tractor store

For those readers who might have no interest in tractors: “This is not a tractor store. It is a store filled with unique gifts, and merchandise all under one roof. Everything in this building you can find someplace, but you can find it all under this roof,” Christopher said.  

He and his wife have two children, a son Blake, 19, and a daughter Jenna, 21, both in the Air Force. Their son is in Turkey serving in the military police and their daughter is in nuclear logistics stationed in Florida at Eglin Air Force Base.

While Christopher is the oldest of four – having three sisters – he said he got all the perks in the family. “I’m the oldest grandchild, the oldest grandson,” he chuckled.

He noted that retail always has its challenges – but for every one who walks in grumpy there’s always that one person who will come in and tell you that you’re doing a great job, thanking us for just being here. It’s that type person who stands tall and makes the day, he said.

Being a “people person” Christopher has a knack at being upbeat all the time and sending his customers out the door with smiles on their faces. He has the unique ability to turn people around, knowing a customer, feeling down on their day, is often reacting from something that has happened outside the store and it has nothing to do with his facility.

Sometimes it’s just the atmosphere in the store that gets customers to relax from their day’s activities, he added. “It’s not a place you come in and hurry,” he said. “It’s a place you come in and relax,” he said. “That’s one of the things that drew me here.”

“It’s like golfing. I’m a terrible golfer but when I go golfing and I hit one stroke that makes me feel like a champ – that’s how I take each day when I work retail,” he quipped. “It’s that one shot that makes you come back to play again,” he said.
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