February 1, 2018 – Executive search firm Reffett Associates has helped to place the new chief executive officer of Bartell Drugs, a family-run drug store chain in Washington State. The search was led by founder and managing partner Bill Reffett.
Kathi Lentzsch is just the fifth CEO in Bartell’s 128-year history. She had been serving as the interim CEO for Gump’s, a San Francisco-based, multi-channel retailer of luxury goods. She replaces Brian Unmacht, who stepped down last spring after two years in the role. Mr. Unmacht had been the first non-family member to head the Seattle-based company.
“This was a national search, and we looked through a variety of industries,” said Mr. Reffett. “There were a number of criteria necessary: The family wanted a visionary, strategic merchant who knew how to compete in the marketplace; they wanted someone who understood the emerging retail landscape and who could compete not only in traditional channels, but in the emerging digital environment; and someone who shared their values in working with the company’s associates and with our communities. Pharmacy industry experience was not a deciding factor.”
Not only did Ms. Lentzsch excel in all of those criteria, he added, “but she made an immediate connection with the family and the rest of the team.”
A Wide-Ranging Search
Prior to her role with Gump’s, Ms. Lentzsch was president of the gift division for Enesco, a global giftware wholesaler of one-of-a-kind gifts, created by international artists. She also served as CEO and president of Elephant Pharmacy, a now-defunct retailer that combined traditional retail pharmacy with complementary and alternative remedies, free education and health consultations, among other roles.
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Ms. Lentzsch also served on the board of trustees of the Mason School Business at the College of William and Mary for 15 years and was a guest lecturer for the school.
“This was a wide-ranging search, but the actual search process took a little under 90 days, which is always our goal,” said Mr. Reffett. “When a client engages us, we understand that the project is time-sensitive, and we devote whatever resources are necessary to achieve that standard.”
Bartell Drugs is the nation’s oldest drug store chain, with 68 stores in the Puget Sound area. Bartell offers a mixture of prescription drugs, medications, personal care products, convenience items and other services.
An Iconic Brand
“Bartell Drugs is an iconic brand,” said Mr. Reffett. “The family has imbued the company with great values; and the family members are an integral part of our communities. In this age of mega-chain retailers, it represents a viable, regional presence that understands the uniqueness of the Northwest.”
Reffett Associates, based in Bellevue, WA, is a nationally recognized executive search firm. The boutique talent provider has extensive experience in retail and consumer packaged goods, private equity, commercial & federal services, government sectors and associations and non-profits. Its team is made up of executives with tangible industry experience, possessing real world, relatable knowledge about the challenges executives face in managing talent in a competitive marketplace.
Mr. Reffett has identified and placed key executive leaders for major companies across the United States. Previously, he was a vice president and partner with Korn Ferry, where he was responsible for initiating the firm’s national supermarket practice. Additionally, he was a member of the firm’s national specialty retail practice, where he focused on companies along the West Coast.
Prior to Search
Before entering the recruitment industry, Mr. Reffett served as senior vice president, chief administrative officer for Cavenham, the U.S.-based investment arm of the late Sir James Goldsmith. Mr. Reffett was also a board member and senior vice president for the organization’s operating company, Grand Union, where he was responsible for areas like human resources, legal, labor relations, and communications. Prior to that, he was a senior vice president of a major department store company. Mr. Reffett also has 27 years of combined active and reserve military experience, retiring as a colonel.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media
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