iFD People: David Ellingson, Bargreen Ellington

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David Ellingson is president of Bargreen Ellingson, a foodservice supply and restaurant design company founded in 1960 in Tacoma, Wash. Representing the third Ellingson generation to manage the company (the co-founding Bargreen family was bought out in the late 1990s), David joined the family firm in 2006 and was named president in January 2012, transitioning leadership from his father, Paul, and uncle, Rick, who grew the company into a premier regional E&S dealership. In 2016, Bargreen Ellingson sales exceeded $255 million and the company’s territory covered 10 western states, including Hawaii and Alaska, as well as portions of western Canada, from 22 locations. David’s excited about the growth, and says his biggest focus as Bargreen Ellingson’s leader is nurturing a strong company culture around an internal program called On Board. It focuses on nine critical founding values, which are intended to drive decision making from the boardroom to the warehouse. They are: Hire Smart; Respect; Teamwork; Use Good Judgement; Learn, Learn, Learn; Communication; Pursue Change; Ownership; and Hoopla (i.e., have fun!).

iFD What are you most proud of in your career?
The successes and growth of Bargreen Ellingson employees
Who are your role models?
My father and mother
What books or other reading matter are on your bedside table right now?
Lately, I have spent more time reading The Economist than anything else.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I don’t self-reflect well, but I think my personality was once described as irreverent. I try to be very supportive and believe people can grow with patience and gentle direction.
What characteristic(s) do you admire most in others? Least?
I admire patience and conversely can’t stand impatience and/or yelling (although I occasionally act that way myself).
What three people, living or dead, would you like to have dinner with? What would be on the menu?
Angela Merkel, Pope Francis and Dave Grohl. We’d have sushi.
What’s your favorite travel destination?
Probably home. I travel too much.
What’s one dramatic change that you predict we’ll see in within the next 10 years?
Self-driving cars and delivery trucks. I hope.
What keeps you up at night?
I worry about our customers’ profitability.