By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor
Jacob Forehand, former director of human resources at Flash Foods, is set to join Golden Pantry Convenience Stores as the new director of human resources and risk management, effective Feb. 8.
Forehand is the first executive to depart Flash Foods since the announcement broke of its acquisition by CST Brands.
Currently, Forehand is in the process of relocating to the Athens, Ga.-area for his new position.
The risk management aspect of the job will be new for Forehand. “It’s going to be a new adventure and I’m excited about (the risk management) part. I dealt with the risk management piece with our risk management director at Flash Foods, but at Golden Pantry human resources and risk management are together in one position. In an employment law situation often the risk management piece correlates really closely so I’m excited to be directly involved with both of those areas,” Forehand said.
He’s also looking forward to assisting Golden Pantry in further exploring the reach of the People Matter platform—a software platform providing workforce solutions and business intelligence tools—which the company rolled out two year ago.
“Flash foods was one of People Matter’s first clients, so I’m very familiar with the platform and the individuals at People Matter,” he said. Flash Foods utilized the People Matter platform to assist with employee management aspects, including performance management and employee training.
Golden Pantry “has just begun to tap the potential of People Matter, and I’m excited to help in moving it across all areas of the company to include performance management, training and scheduling. There are a lot of options with People Matter that I am excited about utilizing,” Forehand said.
After seven years with Flash Foods, which boasts 176 stores, 20 restaurants, and fuel and grocery distribution, Forehand left the company on Feb. 2. It is certain to be a major change moving to a 39-store chain, but one Forehand feels will be a strong fit for him.
Forehand found that the service-centric culture at Golden Pantry and the way the chain cares for its customers and employees resonated with his own core values. “The move wasn’t about leaving Flash Foods as much as it is about going toward Golden Pantry. I enjoyed my seven years with Flash Foods every single day and the Jones brothers were phenomenal people to work for.”
CST Brands on Feb. 1, announced that it had closed on the aforementioned acquisition of Flash Foods. “From my experience with CST Brands, they are an extremely professional group of people and I could have really see myself working with them, but then this opportunity came up during the transition, and I figured if I was ever going to make a change now would be the time,” he said.
Forehand was attracted to a number of aspects about Golden Pantry’s business. The chain has a long history in the industry, having just celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. “One of the biggest things that attracted me to Golden Pantry is that they don’t pretend to want to be the biggest. They just want to focus on being the best so that really resonated with me,” he said.
The focus on “local” among the regional chain also appealed to Forehand. “When you visit Golden Pantry stores the product mix offers a lot of Athens, Ga.-based products, and the company likes to focus on including locally-based vendors. We don’t incorporate local enough in c-store compared to the way you see it in restaurants and hotels,” he said.
While local is a big trend, as more and more regional c-stores are consumed by national conglomerates the ability to incorporate that local flavor can become more challenging.
“There was something about the Golden Pantry opportunity and the way it allowed me to be involved in a company that is so focused on quality and not on wanting to be the biggest, but on wanting to be the best. And I really liked that,” Forehand said.
Recruiting Next-Generation Leaders
Forehand sees Golden Pantry as a place where young professionals will be flocking in the next five years as opportunities become available. “Golden Pantry has been around for a long time and there are a lot of opportunities that are going to be coming open. The company is open minded when it comes to innovation and change, so I think it’s going to be a haven for young professionals.”
Forehand plans to attend the National Advisory Group (NAG)’s Young Executive Organization (YEO)’s free roundtable event for retailers at RaceTrac Petroleum in Atlanta on April 27-28. “We’re excited about that because that is the type of stuff we’re going to be doing; looking for people who want to come in and make a difference and hang their hat on something and be a real game changer in the industry.”
YEO’s mission is to cultivate young talent in the convenience store and petroleum industry through the implementation of education and networking.
Forehand was recently listed among CSD and YEO’s “Top 40 Professionals To Watch Under 40.” While other kids were out on the playground, Forehand grew up stocking coolers and fronting shelves in Stilson Country Corner Convenience Store, which his family has owned and operated for 33 years and counting. “The c-store business is in my blood,” he said. “My goals are to find more ways to attract the best talent to our organization, keep them happy and engaged, and develop them to their fullest potential.”