Coborn’s Inc. today announced that its COO Bob Thueringer will retire after reaching 47 years of service on June 30, 2014. He will continue to serve on the company’s board of directors.
Thueringer joined Coborn’s in 1967, bagging groceries at Coborn’s in Sauk Rapids with the original intent of working his way through college at St. Cloud State University. He quickly established himself as a pillar of the growing organization and was hired on full-time. This move sparked the beginning of a long and successful career that culminated with being promoted to COO in 2006.
Thueringer’s unprecedented tenure coincided with extraordinary company growth. During his time, the company mushroomed from three grocery stores to 120 retail locations, including 48 grocery stores. The employee-owned grocery company grew from 240 employees to more than 7,100 employees throughout the Midwest.
He has helped lead St. Paul, Minn.-based Coborn’s through strategic acquisitions, emerging technologies and evolving consumer trends. Among his key contributions were creating a culture of doing what’s best for the customer, establishing multiple food retail formats, introducing optical scanning, building retail operations labor standards, developing in-store pharmacy solutions, establishing natural and organic departments, and establishing a leading level of quality in perishable products. He also was a perennial executive sponsor of the company’s annual United Way campaign, which raises more than $300,000 each year for local United Way chapters.
Thueringer’s commitment to doing what’s best for customers is matched only by his commitment to doing what’s best for employees, Coborn’s says. An eternal optimist who believes in the best in people, he is known in the company for leading with humility and compassion. These qualities make him a strong and influential leader, as well as a trusted friend, mentor and confidant for many at Coborn’s and beyond. He has mentored many young people who have gone on to successful careers they love.
“I am grateful for the tremendous experience I have had at Coborn’s,” said Thueringer. “My career was filled with countless opportunities to learn, grow and spread my wings. I was empowered to be entrepreneurial and to take risks. I had the good fortune of working with so many good, talented people. I have grown to love this company and our employees, and everything we stand for.”
Thueringer added, “But there comes a time when you have to think about the next stage and passing the reins to someone who can carry your legacy forward. I feel that this is the right time to progress with a transition plan. The company is positioned with a strong and stable leadership team and committed employees who care about our customers. I am confident that Coborn’s best days are still ahead.”
“Bob is an iconic leader at Coborn’s and is one of the best in the business,” said Coborn’s President and CEO Chris Coborn. “He understands and appreciates what it means to take care of the customer. That is the absolute core of our business and he models it each and every day. We are tremendously grateful to Bob for his lifetime of service. We will carry on his passion for serving our customers. We wish Bob and his family all the best as they begin this exciting new journey.”
As Thueringer transitions into retirement, the board has named CFO Pam Osborn to the role of COO, effective Jan. 1, 2014. Thueringer and Osborn will work closely together over the coming year to ensure a smooth and successful transition for the organization. Osborn’s successor has not been named.
Osborn has served as Coborn’s CFO since June 2011. She has brought strategic vision, sound leadership and a heightened sense of accountability to the organization. Prior to that, she served as the company’s VP of finance and accounting, as well as the company’s controller. Before joining Coborn’s, Osborn served in a variety of finance roles, including VP of finance, cost control at United Healthcare; VP of operations finance at Nash Finch Co.; and CFO at United Health Group, Optum. She also founded Osborn Business Consulting, a management consulting firm focused on project leadership, investment analysis and process improvement.
“I am grateful to be given this opportunity to serve as COO at such an exciting time in Coborn’s history,” said Osborn. “With our North Dakota expansion underway, I am passionate about serving our customers in each of our existing and new markets. I’m honored to be learning from Bob, who is one of the best in the industry. I hold him in the highest regard and look forward to working alongside him as I take on this new role.”