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Bartell Drugs goes outside the family for new president

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SEATTLE — Brian Unmacht has been named president of Bartell Drugs, becoming the first person outside the Bartell family to hold the title at the 125-year-old chain.

nmacht, 54, former executive vice president and chief operating officer at retailer REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) has served as a member of Bartell’s board of directors since 2011.

The appointment supports the chain’s future succession plans, said chairman and chief executive officer George Bartell.

“Brian is an accomplished leader, with a great track record of success,” said the 63-year-old Bartell. “He brings an excellent mix of leadership, operational experience, technical breadth and passion for exceptional guest service. Our senior leadership team has never been stronger, and Brian will play a key role in our long-range planning and growth.”

Bartell said Unmacht’s dedication to customer service during his nearly three-decade career at REI is an ideal match for 63-store Bartell Drugs’ core values. “His experience helping profitably grow REI will be a great asset,” said Bartell.

Said Unmacht, “I am excited to start a new chapter of my career at Bartell Drugs. Growing up in Seattle, it represents a brand that I greatly admire. I respect the commitment of Bartell employees to serving our guests, and the role our stores play in serving the health and wellness needs of the neighborhoods we serve.”

Unmacht started at REI in 1986 as a store supervisor. His career included a stint as interim CEO between March and September 2013 when the retailer’s chief executive, Sally Jewell, was appointed secretary of the interior by the Obama administration.

At Bartell, Unmacht joins other relatively new faces in the management team, including chief operating officer Ken Mahoney, chief financial officer Rob Jensen, senior vice president of pharmacy Peter Koo, senior vice president of marketing Helen Neville, and senior vice president of merchandising Brent Beebe. Most have roots or work experience in the Pacific ­Northwest.

George Bartell is the third member of the Bartell family to head the company, which was founded in Seattle in 1890. His sister, Jean Bartell Barber, is vice chairman and treasurer. Members of the fourth generation are engaged in the succession transition, including Evelyn Barber, who is rejoining the organization upon completion of graduate school. Other members of the fourth generation are spending time learning about the company’s operations.


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