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Bartell Drugs names Unmacht as new CEO

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Longtime chief executive George Bartell to continue as chairman

SEATTLE — Brian Unmacht has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Bartell Drugs, succeeding longtime CEO George Bartell as the head of the 125-year-old, family-owned drug chain.

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Brian Unmacht (left) with George Bartell

The Seattle drug chain said late Wednesday that Bartell, who has served as CEO for the past 25 years, will remain chairman. Also, Jean Bartell Barber will continue to serve as vice chairman and treasurer.

Unmacht, 54, was named president of the 62-store chain in early January. A former executive vice president and chief operating officer of outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.), he had served on Bartell Drugs’ board since 2011.

Unmacht, who spent 27 years at REI in a range of executive positions, was the first person outside the Bartell family to hold the president’s title at the drug chain.

“Brian’s dedication to customer service, well-developed leadership skills and grasp of our day-to-day operations has been quickly demonstrated,” stated George Bartell, the grandson of founder George H. Bartell. “In his expanded role, he will play a very important leadership role in positioning us for long range growth.”

A Seattle native, Unmacht cited Bartell Drugs’ commitment to customer service as a linchpin of its success. “It’s not only part of our heritage; it’s a key element for our future success here in the Puget Sound area,” he said in a statement. “We’re very focused on serving neighborhoods throughout the region to meet their health and wellness needs.”

When Unmacht was named president, Bartell noted that his appointment reflected future succession plans. The company said Wednesday that members of the fourth generation of the Bartell family are engaged in the company’s succession transition, including Evelyn (Evie) Barber, who is rejoining the organization this year after completing graduate school, while other members of the family, including Hugh Barber, are spending time learning about the company’s operations.


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