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Outgoing Fred Meyer President Reflects On Career Of Constant Change

Dennis Gibson

Dennis Gibson, president of the Fred Meyer Division of Kroger, has announced his plans to retire Oct. 1. In an exclusive interview with The Shelby Report of the West, Gibson reflected on his 38 years of leadership and service in the industry, as well as his plans for retirement.

Gibson’s professional career began in 1976, when he got a job with Grand Central Department Stores in Salt Lake City, Utah. He had previously been attending Rick’s College in Idaho, which is now part of Brigham Young University. Gibson’s then girlfriend, Karen, was planning to attend BYU while he made plans to continue his college baseball career at Oregon State University. But the prospect of being separated made Gibson feel uneasy.

“During that summer, I just didn’t feel good about the whole situation. And we decided to get married. So that changed my world. Suddenly, I had to work and I didn’t really know what I’d do,” he said.

Within less than six years at Grand Central, Gibson had been named a district manager. However, the company wasn’t doing well financially and was eventually bought by Fred Meyer in 1984.

“That gave me the opportunity to be a smaller fish in a much bigger pond. The rest is history,” Gibson said with a chuckle.

The Gibsons decided that moving to Portland, Oregon, would be the best move for them as he wanted to continue advancing in his new company. While many of his co-workers at the time were “jumping ship,” he wanted to see what Fred Meyer could offer. 

As his career progressed, the Gibson family lived in seven states while he served in a variety of positions. At first with Fred Meyer, he held roles in apparel throughout Oregon, Utah and Idaho. 

From 1992-99, he held store and district management positions. He was promoted to VP and regional director for the division. In 2011, Gibson moved to the Columbus, Ohio, division as VP of operations, before being named VP of merchandising. 

In 2016, Gibson was promoted to president of King Sooper/City Market in Colorado before being named Fred Meyer’s president in 2019.

At one point during his career, he had become a toy buyer for Fred Meyer. This, in turn, jump-started a hobby he shares today with his adult son of collecting toys. And it’s just one of the many aspects he enjoyed of the retail industry. 

“It’s always changing,” he said simply.

Gibson said he’s never been afraid of change and knows that to be successful, leaders must be a change advocate.

“Get better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today,” he said. 

That’s a philosophy he said that he and the Fred Meyer Division share. He likens the change of retail to his personal life and the excitement he gets.

“For me, the change was just constant,” he said. “We’ve lived in 14 homes. I talk to people all the time that have been in the same home for 50 years. That’s so different for me. I love change. 

“I like to be doing things all the time. And that’s retail – there’s always something new. Something isn’t going to be the same as it was a year ago.”

However, Gibson is looking forward to his retirement. It’s going to give him the time to focus on things that matter most – his family. He has four children and eight grandchildren, who all live in close proximity. He’s even resigned from his professional organizations of which he has long been a part, including the Western Association of Food Chains, in an effort to focus on his post retirement goals.

“For the last 46 years, I’ve committed myself to my work. And, in many ways, work has taken priority over family,” he said. “This time, family is taking priority over anything else. That’s exciting for me to be able to make that commitment.”

He hopes to take at least a year off spending time with family, but admitted that he is getting “more involved” in the politics of the Pacific Northwest. While not planning to run for elected office, he wants his voice to be heard. 

“I keep asking everybody else to rise up and let their voices be heard, too. Because our government was always set up to be run by ‘we the people.’ And it’s just not being run that way,” he said. 

Gibson said he feels he has left Fred Meyer in good hands. Todd Kammeyer, VP of operations for the Fred Meyer Division, has been named his successor.

“Todd is going to be a wonderful president, a president that cares about people just as I do,” he said. “I think that’s really important having somebody in charge that’s going to keep that legacy moving forward.” 

Gibson’s impact will be felt for some time.

“Dennis’ leadership, passion for people and success in growing future leaders within the company leaves a lasting impact on the division and the company,” said Mary Ellen Adcock, SVP of operations. “His knowledge of the business and industry insights he’s passed to others during his nearly 40-year career has been invaluable and will continue to live on within The Kroger Co. long after Dennis is enjoying his retirement.”

The ever-evolving nature of the industry is what Gibson said he will miss most.

“All the things taking place and being around people all the time and making decisions and collaborating, just rubbing shoulders with people,” he said. “That just means I need to do more of that with my family and travel a lot more to do the things that I enjoy. We’ll see what the future holds.”

For more information, visit fredmeyer.com.

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