Like many of his colleagues, Brad Cope had not planned on a career in the grocery industry. “Not at all,” he said. Cope, manager of marketing and customer communications at Fred Meyer, started working for the company in high school. He continued doing so in his first year of college. The company offered him a good career path and he took it.
Cope attributes his staying power at the Portland, Oregon-based company, in part, to having had good mentors over the years.
“Most of them aren’t around anymore; I’ve been around for such a long time,” he said with a chuckle. “There were and are today some great mentors that are willing to show you the way. One of the biggest lessons that I follow would be – to be able to listen, be humble and really just capitalize [on opportunities].”
Learning how to manage people is key, according to Cope.
Despite opportunities to move within the company to other parts of the country, Cope has stayed primarily in the Pacific Northwest. The married father of three and grandfather of two – all of whom live in Oregon or Washington – cited family as a factor in that decision.
“I have had the opportunity to live in many new communities within Fred Meyer while opening new stores and operating in different districts, etc. I moved my family around quite a bit,” he said.
Cope added that his older son works for Fred Meyer as the grocery manager of the store in Wenatchee, Washington.
“In marketing we wear a lot of hats – from analyzing customer trends to producing signs for the stores,” he said. “We develop many projects with our team. A good example was a rewards card transition we did in 2019. We had to develop a campaign, have POS behind it and all of the other aspects to support the campaign.
“I work closely with our PR department to help get media developed. We don’t do the actual ads any longer. Those are done in Cincinnati for all of our divisions, but we do all of the proofing and the price adjusting, etc.”
Cope’s versatility and experience make him ideally suited for the marketing role.
“The interesting thing about retail is that if you stick around long enough [you can do] so many different things,” he said. “I’ve been in the operations part of our business. I have been a merchandiser, field specialist and store manager.”
When asked, he stated: “Out of all of the divisions in Kroger, we have a robust GM side, which is more of a department store.”
Cope has worked for years with Fred Meyer President Dennis Gibson, who has been a mentor and grew up in the same business of non-food.
“There’s very few presidents that we have had – even when we were not a Kroger division – that came from the non-food side of the business, that really understand that business intricately. And he definitely does,” Cope said.
Returning to his specific duties, Cope appreciates the variety.
“A typical week is hard to explain. I do have some routines, for sure. But on the other hand…marketing is a little bit different. What I plan to do today often is replaced with another priority, because there there’s so many different points that come into this job.”
In his spare time, Cope enjoys mountain climbing and playing music with his sons. He has even climbed Mount Ranier. And no interview would be complete these days without asking the requisite question about how the company weathered the COVID-19 pandemic. In his marketing role, Cope cited the need to make signage, memos and help the stores navigate it.
“Marketing has been a joy to work in,” he said. “As stated before, it touches so many ends of our business. It has allowed me to be a large part of how our business faces our customers and associates.”
For more information, visit fredmeyer.com.
To read the full anniversary section on Fred Meyer by The Shelby Report, click here.