KeHE Announces New President & CEO Deb Conklin
Naperville, IL – January 5, 2023– 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. Mr. Barnholt, who turns 65 in April, has been the company’s President & CEO for fifteen 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 the Reddy Ice company, the largest manufacturer and distributor of packaged ice in the United States with over 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 Brandon Barnholt.
Known for her visionary approach, Ms. Conklin has a history of driving operational improvement, customer service, and building important trade relationships. Ms. Conklin is a Clemson University graduate and earned her MBA from Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“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.” stated Ms. Conklin.
KeHE Distributors, LLC (KeHE) is the largest, pure-play distributor of natural & organic, specialty, and fresh products to more than 30,000 natural food stores, chain and independent grocery stores, e-commerce retailers, and other specialty products retailers throughout North America. With over 6,800 employee-owners, KeHE, a Certified B Corporation, drives its mission of serving to make lives better, throughout all aspects of its operation. For more about KeHE, visit KeHE.com or check out its social media channels: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.