Hannaford Retiring President Brad Wise Stresses Communication & Team Building Skills
By Mike Berger
Brad Wise, retiring president of Hannaford Bros, known for his human resources and team building skills, is the recent inductee to the Food Industry Hall of Fame.
The Food Industry Hall of Fame was established to recognize those select individuals who have provided leadership, fostered innovation, and dedicated themselves to excellence in the food industry. The Hall of Fame honors contributions to the entire food industry across all segments and selects individuals who clearly have the recognition and respect of industry peers for their contributions and commitment.
Wise will retire as president on June 30. Hannaford named Michael Vail, current chief merchant and supply chain officer, to succeed Wise as the new president.
“Brad’s announcement of his retirement marks a transition in his distinguished and successful career with our company,” said Kevin Holt, CEO of Delhaize America. “During the next few months, Brad and Mike will work together to develop a smooth transition plan to ensure the continued forward momentum of our Hannaford strategic plan. I am grateful that we were able to tap into strong internal talent to ensure a seamless transition.”
Speaking of Wise, Holt added, “”For 30 years, Brad has made significant contributions to our Hannaford brand, dating back to 1985 when he joined the organization as a retail management trainee. Brad’s deep background in successfully leading teams and developing great supermarket shopping experiences for customers will be his legacy. He built his career as a food retailer with a focus on customer service, community, and associates. Thanks to Brad’s leadership and vision, his efforts to advance Hannaford’s growth and service to customers will continue.”
Wise as president of Hannaford Supermarkets is a member of the Delhaize America Leadership Team. He assumed the leadership of Hannaford in late 2012 and continued supporting the organization on an interim basis as the lead officer supporting all human resource functions.
He had served during the prior 10 years as senior vice president of human resources for Hannaford and later as senior vice president of Human Resources for the Delhaize America organization. Those responsibilities included retail, corporate and distribution human resources, as well as compensation and benefits.
Wise has deep experience in retail. He started his career at Hannaford in 1985 as a retail management trainee. He then served as an assistant manager and store manager before moving on to productivity and grocery specialist positions. He was promoted in September 1992 to manager of independent sales; in April 1994 to manager of pricing; and in April 1995 to director of associate and labor relations. He also led the Eastern Division of Hannaford as vice president of retail operations, overseeing operation of all stores in Maine and central New Hampshire.
A 1985 graduate of the University of Southern Maine, Wise has a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He lives in Gorham, Maine, with his wife, Kathleen, and they have three children.
Under Wise’s tenure, Hannaford has been recognized for its customer service, fresh foods, and sustainability efforts. Here are some of the Hannaford team accomplishements.
Forbes Magazine in April named Hannaford one its “Best Employers 2015” based on attitude of associates toward the company and other factors, including public perception of the company.
In the last two years, work to build on Hannaford good reputation for customer service has gathered momentum. Hannaford annually conducts an Associate Experience Survey, measuring factors like associate engagement with their role and with the company strategy. Results are shared with managers and teams to drive improvement. The “Power of You” initiative at retail stores has emphasized giving associates more tools and the ability to make decision that create customer satisfaction. Ideas and success stories about how associates take action to delight customers are widely shared across stores. Here is an example of customer experience exchanged among store associates.
“A customer had been looking for Townhouse original crackers for several weeks. When center store was able to get them back into the cracker set, front-end shift leader Cathy noticed they were back on the shelf. A few days later, Cathy saw the customer who had been requesting the Townhouse crackers standing in a checkout lane. Cathy went and got a box of Townhouse crackers off the shelf and put an ‘It’s on me’ sticker on the box and gave it to the customer. Not only was the customer happy to get the box of crackers, but feels that Cathy went above and beyond to get the crackers for him just because she knew he had requested the crackers weeks before. Then, to top it off, she gave him the box on us. The customer wrote us a nice compliment about Cathy and wanted to ensure Hannaford would recognize the extraordinary customer service she provided.
Local and Organic Produce
Hannaford has a long history of working with local farmers and producers – in fact, Hannaford got its start in 1883 selling vegetables from a pushcart on the waterfront in Portland, Maine.
Over the years, Hannaford stores built great relationships with these small producers and are extremely proud of their “Close to Home” program. In 2008, Hannaford began the Close to Home program as a way to help customers easily spot locally made and locally grown products when they shop. Close to Home continues to build support in local communities and is a critical part of the Hannaford go to market strategy.
By buying Close to Home produce, Hannaford estimates that it helps preserve 24,000 acres of farmland in the Northeast. Hannaford works with more than 600 producers in the program and carries thousands of regionally made products.
Produce sales continue to increase. Organic produce, in particular, has significantly increased in recent years. The continued focus on daily fresh deliveries and quality and variety of produce are seen as the biggest factors driving this growth, according to Hannaford officials
Grocery Stewardship Certification
In 2015, Hannaford received the Manomet Center for Environmental Studies Grocery Stewardship Certification (GSC) The GSC looks at everything from facilities maintenance to products on the shelves to how engaged associates are paying attention to the program. The program helping each store operation correct inefficiencies as well as engage associate in Hannaford’s zero waste commitment.
Hannaford officials said moving to zero waste involves getting all associates on board to recycle and reduce waste wherever possible in the store.
In recent years, the focus also has increased on supporting local growers with technical assistance, such as supporting USDA’s Good Agricultural Practices program.
Legacy To The Business
Wise, in an interview with The Griffin Report, said he will be enjoying his new time with his family and says his retirement comes at a very good time for the company. Sales and team morale are up as Wise has put an emphasis in “taking pride in people.” He believes the store manager and store associates are very important to the organization.
Wise believes he continued the principles of those Hannaford leaders who came before him such as Jim Moody, Hugh Farrington, Beth Newlands Campbell and Ron Hodge.
When asked what his legacy is, Wise responded, “ Our team grew the company. We have very positive results ands the future looks great for the organization.”
“I think what we did is look at how to continue to stay relevant to the customer. We looked at things like our relationships with local producers, fresh foods, and customer service.’
Wise said one aspect of the Hannaford staff which has impressed him is “the ability to adapt to and embrace change
Wise knows Vail very well, has worked with him for many years and is excited that Vail will be succeeding him. “Mike has a lot of talent, energy, and passion. Like me he values the position of the store manager.”
When asked his advice for Vail, Wise said. “You have a strong company with a strong brand and you have great people here who will work hard to continue to grow the business. I think Mike will continue the momentum and build it up a notch.”