With much enthusiasm the Board of Directors announces the hiring of Lee Bradford as the Brattleboro Food Co-op’s new General Manager. Lee offers over 26 years of business management expertise in a variety of industries. He is incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work in a co-op setting, which he described as less about getting food from point a to point b, and more about serving communities. He added that Covid has given us all the opportunity to think about deep values and what’s important to us.
Lee will start work at the Co-op on March 21st following his move back east from Fresno, CA.
Currently, Lee holds dual roles for C&S Wholesale Grocers. He is the Vice President of Sales and Customer Experience for CA, OR and WA, as well as the General Manager of FreshKo Produce Services, a $100 million/year produce sales and distribution company with over 150 employees. At FreshKo he helped their many retail clients successfully navigate the various supply chain shortages throughout the pandemic.
Prior to finding his way to the food wholesaling industry, Lee managed customer services and sales in a variety of organizations, including Eastern Mountain Sports, a greeting card company, and AT&T. At AT&T, Lee managed a 220-person team that was composed of a highly diverse workforce that was also in a strong union. Numerous of Lee’s colleagues highlighted his extraordinary people skills at all levels of the organization and with customers alike. One specific person shared that Lee, “sets forth a clear vision and expectations so everyone understands their role in that vision. He spends time getting to know his team and connecting them to the larger purpose. He’s very flexible in collecting feedback from others.”
In his two-day visit to the Co-op in February, Lee won over both the Board and the Management Team with his attentiveness, his articulate and heartfelt responses to a variety of hard and challenging interview questions, and his personable, easy manner. In the meet & greets with staff, Lee had engaging conversations and encouraged open and honest communication.
A colleague of Lee’s shared that “You hear a lot of people say things about being a “servant leader” that never follow through. Lee does. He believes in culture and putting people first. He is very inclusive in his approach with his team and builds a positive culture.”
Lee has a track record of immersing himself, learning quickly and being successful. He is very excited about the co-op business model and sees great opportunity to help our Co-op thrive for decades to come. When Lee visited the Brattleboro Co-op in the spring of last year he felt a strong sense of belonging, of access to and presentation of local products, of engaged employees. He said it was the opposite of a sterile supermarket; it was organic and authentic; a friendly atmosphere. When asked what co-op means to him, he replied, “Community ownership and collaboration.”
We asked Lee what work/life balance is for him. He shared that it is “having time to engage with my family in moments of importance. I always try to have one meal a day with family, be there at bedtime, to round out the day – I’m not always successful – and making a concerted effort to have shared experiences, with family, whether on the weekend, or quick lunch or attending a play or dance – making time for those events. I expect everyone to have the opportunity to balance those things, that is why we’re working, ultimately.”
And from Lee directly:
“I would like to extend my sincerest thanks for the opportunity to be part of the Brattleboro Co-op. I am incredibly excited to join this amazing team and to serve a community so closely aligned with my personal values and see a very bright future for us. My family and I are looking forward to the move and hope to see you at the Co-op soon!”