Brad Brookshire, chairman and CEO of Brookshire Grocery Co., knew Rosemary Jones long before she came to work as the company’s EVP, chief people officer/legal.
“She married Chip [Jones] and our families – the Jones and Brookshires – were close growing up in Tyler, Texas. Chip is younger than I am, but Chip’s parents and my parents were really good friends,” Brookshire said.
Rosemary Jones herself had worked alongside BGC for many years as its legal representative prior to joining the grocer’s leadership team. Brookshire knew her professionally and personally, but it wasn’t until the previous head of HR was set to retire in early 2016 that his company offered her an executive position.
“She represented Brookshire’s and we worked with her and were always impressed. She’s very professional, very thorough and did a great job for the company,” he said.
“When I got to be CEO, the lady that was over HR said she wanted to retire. I told her, ‘No.’ Eventually I told her, ‘I’ll let you retire when you find your replacement.’” Before the end of that year, the former executive had returned to Brookshire with a suitable – if not surprising – candidate.
As Brookshire recalled, “She said, ‘I have my replacement.’ And I asked, ‘Who?’ She said that she had gotten Rosemary Jones. I was really surprised. I didn’t know lawyers would come into a corporate environment like that, not really only as a chief legal counsel but working with HR and everything else. She’s done a fantastic job for the company since 2016 and continues to do so every day. She handles so much in so many areas of the company. We’re very fortunate to have her.”
Brookshire was looking for someone who would help change the culture around the company’s corporate office. At the time, there was a massive shift in personnel and morale wasn’t where he wanted it to be. He needed Jones to bring a warmer atmosphere.
That began with simple adjustments such as more extravagant celebrations for the Fourth of July and Halloween. For the latter, the company now holds a yearly costume contest. Other changes included relaxing the dress code, providing food trucks and gradually creating an environment where Brookshire’s employees felt heard and seen.
“We’ve got a really strong team now,” Brookshire said. “She helped orchestrate that and was an integral part of not just the recruiting and hiring process but retaining the good people we have.
“It’s just a finer place to work and there’s a lot more laughter…she made the culture fun. We tried to make it where our people appreciated coming to work at BGC.”
Jones’ position encompasses many aspects within the business. As the EVP chief people officer/legal, her responsibilities range from asset protection and benefits to individual case management and workplace disputes.
On top of that, she and her team navigated the acquisition of Reasor’s, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was finalized in January.
“She was instrumental in keeping that good core group that we’ve got in Tulsa. That’s very important,” Brookshire said. “She and her group went up there a number of times. We had meetings with the folks in the office, the corporate people, the store directors. She led all that.”
Jones even led a 300-person orientation meeting that involved a variety of Reasor’s personnel. She also spearheaded making Memorial Day a paid holiday at BGC, which previously was a holiday at Reasor’s but not at BGC.
“So far it seems [Reasor’s employees] are satisfied and happy to be a part of BGC and that didn’t just happen. It takes a lot of work from a lot of people, and [Jones] was so instrumental in all that,” Brookshire said.
Before joining BGC, Jones had an ingrained sense of community within Tyler. She had previously held leadership roles with the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Tyler organization and the South Tyler and Tyler Rotary Clubs. That had not gone unnoticed by Brookshire.
“She knows a lot of people,” he said. “She’s been president of the chamber of commerce. She’s on the board of economic development. She was downtown and among all the leaders of our town for years and years. Nobody knows who the players are like she does.
“The connection with people is important in her role. People connect with her and like to be around her. She’s got a great personality for her role in HR. And from a legal standpoint, she’s developed that area to what it is.”
Prior to Jones’ arrival, the legal department at BGC was comprised of one employee. It now has three full-time attorneys. Going forward, the company recently hired a new SVP of people and culture to help take some pressure off Jones. Brookshire hopes this will allow her to expand on her EVP roles to focus on strategic planning over the next three to five years.
In closing, Brookshire offered high praise of Jones for her recognition as The Shelby Report of the Southwest’s 2022 Woman Executive of the Year.
“She’s here early and stays late and comes in on the weekends and works. She’s got a great personality. She’s always positive and just a pleasant person to be around,” he said. “She’s definitely a big asset for BGC. Where we are today as a company, she’s been instrumental and she’s just a great person. She’s indispensable for BGC.
“She is just amazing in all of the areas that she covers. I don’t believe there’s anyone else that does the legal and all the aspects of HR. If she ever decides to leave, what she does will probably require at least two people to do. It’s amazing what she’s able to accomplish. She deserves so much.”
For more information, visit brookshires.com.
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