Sophie Bolich

Outpost Names New Leader

Ray Simpkins will replace Pam Mehnert as general manager of co-op grocery store chain.

By - May 5th, 2023 11:20 am
Ray Simpkins. Photo courtesy of Outpost Natural Foods.

Ray Simpkins. Photo courtesy of Outpost Natural Foods.

After 35 years as general manager at Outpost Natural Foods, Pam Mehnert is preparing to retire from the position next month. On Thursday, the organic-focused grocery store group announced Ray Simpkins as her successor.

“As general manager of Outpost, Simpkins will take the helm of one of the country’s leading natural foods co-ops during a time of renewed growth amidst a crowded retail food marketplace,” the co-op said in a news release.

Simpkins, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University and an MBA from Strayer University, brings more than two decades of retail experience to the new role, having most recently served as district manager for Dollar General, where he was responsible for a network of locations. He has also worked as a store manager for The Home Depot, club manager for Sam’s Club and store director for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.

“After a nationwide search, we are thrilled to have found a general manager who brings such a rich background and extensive experience in grocery retail,” said Ashley Fisher, president of the board of directors for Outpost, in a statement. “Ray is an energetic team leader with a passion for customer service. We’re excited to watch him excel at Outpost.”

Simpkins is set to join Outpost on May 22. His first few weeks will overlap with Mehnert’s final days in order to ensure a seamless transition.

“I can’t wait to move to Milwaukee and meet Outpost employees, owners, shoppers and community partners,” Simpkins said in a statement. “Together, we’ll continue to create healthy, diverse, and sustainable communities by offering the area’s largest selection of regionally and locally sourced organic products, all within an engaging consumer experience.”

Mehnert’s career at Outpost spanned more than 40 years. Under her direction, the organic grocery store grew from a $2 million single location to a $50 million multi-store operation that includes four retail stores, production kitchen, central office, warehouse and multiple wholesale accounts with hospital systems.

Both Mehnert and the co-op have also earned numerous awards throughout the past decades.

Outpost operates four locations throughout the Milwaukee area, including stores at 100 E. Capitol Dr. and 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., as well as in Wauwatosa and Mequon.

The cooperative is co-owned by more than 22,200 individuals from southeastern Wisconsin and employs nearly 360 people.

Following her retirement — and a well-deserved break — Mehnert told Urban Milwaukee that she plans to focus on her managerial coaching and consulting company.

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