Ron Boyd recently retired after 36 years with Ben E. Keith Foods in Fort Worth, Texas. Ron was well-known and respected by all throughout his career in the industry.
“For nearly four decades, Ron has exemplified the ‘Special Spirit’ we have at Ben E. Keith,” says Mike Sweet, president of Ben E. Keith Foods. “Through his inspiring leadership, he has fueled much of our expansion and enabled our evolution from a produce company to a broadline distributor. Ron will be missed, but his legacy will be felt every day. We wish him and his wife, Debbie, a happy and fruitful retirement.”
Here is Ron’s story:
My first job was as the ‘ice boy’ at a sporting goods outlet in Arkansas making 50 cents an hour. I had to be at work at 5 a.m. to get ice for the fishermen. That made me understand how important it was for me to go to college! I graduated from college in 1969 and immediately reported to active duty in the United States Army as a Quartermaster officer. I was stationed in Fort Lee, Va., to attend Quartermaster officer basic training then on to the food advisor/technician school. I spent time in Zweibrucken, Germany, and Da Nang, Vietnam.
Upon returning to the U.S., I got a job running a commissary and federal meat processing operation in Little Rock, Ark. I was fortunate to move on to work for Ben E. Keith Foods the next 36 years, serving as assistant general manager in Dallas, then GM in both Dallas and Fort Worth, then director of groceries , VP regional manager and, finally, completing my career as senior vice president of sales and marketing. I now plan to do more fishing, hunting, traveling with my wonderful wife and spoiling all seven of our grandchildren.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Being involved in the evolution of foodservice at Ben E. Keith Foods and watching our people and company thrive.
Who are your role models?
Alfredo Duarte, owner of Taxco Produce Dallas, Texas. Most thoughtful, considerate and generous person I know. Chef Charles Carroll, executive chef at River Oaks Country Club in Houston, for his leadership in mentoring young people. Developing people is a job for everybody at home and in business.
What books or other reading matter are on your bedside table right now?
Safari Times…I love Mother Nature at her finest.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Open to join in. I knew I was never the smartest guy in the room. The more input I could get, the more creative we became together.
What book has had the greatest impact on your leadership style?
“Leadership Lesson from the Chef— Taking Time to be Great,” by Chef Charles Carroll. Also, Brian Dodge’s “Becoming the Obvious Choice.”
What characteristic(s) do you admire most in others? Least?
Most — relentless energy and sense of urgency. Least — laziness or lack of enthusiasm.
What three people, living or dead, would you like to be marooned on a desert island with?
My wife Debbie, FDR and Robert Ruark
How would you describe yourself in one word?
What’s one dramatic change that you predict we’ll see in within the next 10 years?
Technology taking the dining-out experience to dramatically new levels in both food offerings and service. How and where spectacular food is made available.
What keeps you up at night?
Government regulations that make it hard for us to do business with and lawyers in general. At some point, common sense and doing the right thing need a bigger seat at the table.
Any thoughts on where the industry is headed?
I absolutely think the best is yet to come in foodservice. With technology at the fingertips of our DSRs, their opportunity to deepen their relationship with each customer can grow to exceptional heights. Remaining committed to exceptional, and I do mean exceptional, customer service remains paramount. Nothing will replace the value of a knowledgeable, committed, easy-to-do-business-with sales person who has an efficient, reliable, easy-to-do-business-with company supporting them.