Everybody Likes Pat
Patrick “Pat” Posey, VP of non-perishable procurement and merchandising for Southern California-based retailer Bristol Farms, seems to be one of those guys everybody likes, as you’ll see from comments provided to us by his colleagues (friends).
In addition to managing a successful career in the grocery business that started at Ralphs Grocery Co. in 1984 when Posey was 19, he has developed a reputation for being a guy who cares about a variety of causes and loves his family and friends deeply.
But in true Pat Posey fashion, he is quick to give credit for his recognition as The Shelby Report’s West Retailer Executive of the Year to others.
“It’s more about the people that I surround myself with and how they influence me,” he says. “I’m one of the luckiest guys that you have ever met. I really just try to do things the right way and always give my all. These are the things that the many mentors I’ve had in my life have taught me.
“I’m really just doing what I think I’m supposed to do,” Posey adds. “Life is simple when you listen more than you speak, give more than you take, always try to help whenever you can and surround yourself with great people.”
In an interview with Bob Reeves, VP-West for The Shelby Report, at Posey’s home, the grocery executive looked back over his 34-year career in the grocery business, which allowed him to meet his wife of 24 years, Tina (with whom he has a son and daughter, Trent and Paige, and who was with him during the interview) and introduced him to organizations like City of Hope, which would play an unexpected but welcome role in his family’s life later on.
Following are excerpts from the interview.
Reeves: Tell me how you ended up getting into the industry.
Posey: It just kind of happened. I had never really had a real job other than a paper route, but I was going out with some buddies one night when I was about 19. A buddy of mine pulled up in front of my house in his ’67 VW Bug—Pete Anderson—and he said, “I just got a job at Ralphs; they’re looking for another guy, do you want to work?”
I was a freshman at Cal State Fullerton at the time, and I said, sure, why not?
So I went down there, and a guy named John Sparkenbach gave me all the paperwork. I signed up that day and started two days later. John still works for Ralphs in the main office. He’s a great guy.
I often think about that day that and what if Pete Anderson didn’t stop by, or I left my house 10 minutes earlier and missed him. Would all of this come together the way it did? Hard to say, but I’m sure glad Pete Anderson stopped by that day and I was home.
Story continues below
See the full section honoring Posey here:
You started off as a box boy?
I started off as a box boy and am very proud of it. It was in Anaheim, at the old Sunkist and Lincoln (Ralphs) store. I worked there for three weeks, and then we closed that store and moved to the State College store at State College and Lincoln, about half a mile away.
I was in college at the time, studying to be a mechanical engineer. I never really had any great ambitions of going to school until I was a senior in high school and my dad said, “You need to go to school.”
I said, “I know what I want to do—I want to go hammer nails. I want to be a construction guy; I like working with my hands.”
He said, “Well, why don’t you go become an engineer and be in charge of the guys hammering nails?”
I thought, “OK, why not?”
Did you finish college?
I did finish college.
So you have a mechanical engineering degree?
No, I was in mechanical engineering for a year and a half, and that’s only because after my first semester it took me another year to get out. My grades weren’t so great. I had a 3.86 high school GPA. When I went to college, I almost failed out my first semester.
Very similar to a lot of executives’ stories, you just sort of ended up getting promotions and going through the ranks of Ralphs?
I worked at a great store, and it seems like it was a feeder store for a lot of great people that have gone up through the Ralphs (and parent company Kroger’s) divisions. Guys like Dan De La Rosa, who is president of a Kroger division in the Midwest, and Paul Gianetto, who is the SVP of merchandising for Raley’s in Northern California. I worked with some really great guys when I was a kid, and the store was so competitive. We all wanted to do better than the other guys so we all worked our butts off. We ran to get carts back then.
Was Dan De La Rosa one of your mentors?
What do you think he taught you?
Dan taught me how to work hard and work fast and have fun at work. Dan was probably one of the most fun guys I’ve ever worked for in my life. The fun didn’t stop when we punched the clock, either, because after work we went and had a lot more fun. We were playing football, golf, tennis, doing all kinds of stuff after work with Dan. I was still 19 or 20, and Dan was in his early 20s. It was a good time.
Where did you get your work ethic, do you think?
I know I got my work ethic from my dad. My dad was a blue-collar hero. He was in the Marine Corps for 30 years—this is my stepfather, George Whitehurst—and after that he was an engineer at White Freightliner for 10 years, and then after that he ran a division of Southern California Edison Security for about 15 years before he retired. When he finally retired when he was 67 or so, he received three pensions. So George was kind of like a blue-collar hero. He always taught me how to work hard. “Work hard, always do your best and you’ll be fine” was what he told me.
Posey’s interview with The Shelby Report continues. See the full story through Issuu above or in the October edition of The Shelby Report of the West.