Naperville, IL — Deb Conklin will become KeHE Distributors president & CEO on April 1, and Brandon Barnholt will move into the executive chairman role as part of an ongoing succession plan. Barnholt, who turns 65 in April, has been the company’s president & CEO for 15 years. During his tenure, KeHE expanded from a Midwest Specialty Distributor to the largest pure play Distributor of Specialty, Natural, Organic and Fresh products in North America including the acquisition of Tree of Life, Nature’s Best and Monterrey Provisions.
The change in leadership is the result of a planned succession process. Conklin has served as a board member for KeHE’s employee-owned enterprise. Concurrently, she has been the president & CEO of the Reddy Ice company, the largest manufacturer and distributor of packaged ice in the U.S.
“Deb is a perfect cultural fit and is uniquely qualified with a solid combination of strong distribution and commercial experience in the food retail sector. She is a seasoned, talented executive with deep experience in the capital markets and a keen strategic mind. Beyond that, she is an enthusiastic, humble, and focused leader with a bias for action,” says Barnholt.
Conklin has a history of driving operational improvement, customer service and building important trade relationships, the company notes.
“I want to thank the whole Reddy Ice team for being incredibly supportive, and I look forward to this amazing opportunity to serve the marketplace through the KeHE platform. The strength of KeHE’s customer portfolio and diverse supplier universe is very exciting for the future. KeHE is an important distribution and supply chain partner throughout the retail food sector, and I look forward to helping all parties grow and succeed,” states Conklin.