Rebecca Hennes" />
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Friday, June 9, 2023


Cougar 100 to honor successful UH alumni

After growing up on the sandy beaches of Galveston, Bob Planck came to UH in the fall of 1967 eager to explore Houston’s exciting city life.

Planck started out pre-law, but found his home at the College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, where he graduated in the college’s first class and served as both the first  president and first student senator. 43 years later, Planck is the president and CEO of Independent Marketing Alliance, a jointly-owned supply chain management and brand marketing entity that manages over 6,000 private brand items, from Kenmore to Sears.

Planck said his company is one of the largest regional food service distributors in America, worth an estimated $20 billion in sales.

His company is among 99 others that will be honored at the Cougar 100 Awards Luncheon 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 6 at the Bayou City Event Center. The luncheon will debut the Cougar 100, an annual list of the “Fastest Growing Cougar-Owned Businesses,” which will be featured in the Houston Business Journal.

UH and the University of Houston Alumni Association will host the luncheon as a forum for students to meet with successful CEOs and business owners that constitute the 100 fastest-growing UH alumni-owned or -operated businesses in the world.

“This celebratory event is an opportunity for us to recognize the success of Houston Cougars, whom we know are among the finest business leaders in the world,” said special guest for the luncheon and President Renu Khator. “This event is special because it gives Cougars a point of pride and achievement to share with the entire community.”

In order to qualify, businesses are evaluated on their annual growth from 2011 to 2013. According to the UH website, companies “must be 51 percent owned by a Cougar or cumulatively by a group of Cougars. Cougar-led companies are considered those with a CEO, president, managing partner or chairman who is a Houston Cougar.”

“The Cougar 100 program reflects a significant initiative to get our alumni re-engaged with the University in a meaningful way,” Khator said. “(Our alumni) can open new doors and opportunities for our students through internships, mentoring and leadership. I will always encourage our students to participate in opportunities to celebrate the pride of being a Cougar.”

Planck said his time at UH was well-spent.

“To rise in a business one needs to learn the many facets of an enterprise and understand the market, the competition, and the customer needs,” Planck said. “I strongly suggest taking core accounting, finance, and marketing classes regardless of major.”

Khator said making connections with CEO’s like Planck is a key component to student success.

“There is no better time than now to strengthen or build your network,” Khator said. “Our alumni are visionary leaders. Our students can certainly benefit from hearing their success stories, which we know are built around hard work and dedication.”

Tilman Fertitta, chairman of the UH System Board of Regents and Chairman/CEO of Landry’s Inc., will give the keynote address and said he was honored to speak about a program that “recognizes our successful alumni business leaders and the next generation of Cougar entrepreneurs.”

“Events that connect students, alumni and the community by cultivating tradition, pride and spirit have special value,” Fertitta said. “These kinds of opportunities, in which students can begin to develop a strong network to help them be successful after college, should not be missed.”

Tickets can be bought online for $40 at Following the event, the Cougar 100 list will be made available at

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