KeHE Distributors today announced that as part of an ongoing succession process, Deb Conklin will become KeHE’s President & CEO on April 1, 2023 and Brandon Barnholt will move into the Executive Chairman role. Barnholt, has been the company’s President & CEO for 15 years and helped lead the company through a time of extraordinary growth. 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 executive leadership is the result of a carefully planned succession process. Deb Conklin has served as a board member for KeHE’s employee-owned enterprise. Concurrently, she has been the President & CEO of Reddy Ice, the largest manufacturer and distributor of packaged ice in the United States with more than 80,000 retail customers.
“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,” said Barnholt.
Known for her visionary approach, Conklin has a history of driving operational improvement, customer service and building important trade relationships. Conklin is a Clemson University graduate and earned her MBA from Queens University in Charlotte, NC. “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,” she said.