Longtime DHL executive Jim Gehr has joined United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) as chief supply chain officer.
Plans call for Gehr, president of North America retail at DHL Supply Chain, to start in his new post on May 4, UNFI said yesterday. He will report to Chief Operating Officer Eric Dorne.
Gehr (left) takes over as chief supply officer from Paul Green, who in February was appointed as president of fresh, a role in which he will lead the company’s meat and produce merchandising teams.
At Providence, R.I.-based UNFI, Gehr will lead more than 12,000 associates in four regions and 59 distribution centers, which deliver 1.3 billion cases each year to the natural/organic and conventional grocery wholesaler’s more than 30,000 customers.
UNFI noted that Gehr’s immediate focus will be on the company’s warehouse logistics, as well as advancing investments in automation, distribution center expansion and network optimization.
“Jim is a highly regarded supply chain executive who brings operational excellence experience to UNFI along with a proven track record of building and motivating teams,” Dorne said in a statement. “He has a history of creating and growing business opportunities, establishing sustainable processes, and developing a strong culture of continuous improvement that drives value throughout the supply chain and, ultimately, to customers.”
Gehr comes to UNFI after spending the past 29 years at DHL Supply Chain, the supply-chain management and logistics arm of parcel service giant DHL. Since 2004, he has served as president of Retail North America at DHL Supply Chain, overseeing operations for 72 facilities providing store, e-commerce and multichannel fulfillment, as well as import center deconsolidation, return center operations, and store delivery across national networks for over 30 major North American retailers.
While leading DHL’s retail unit, Gehr also assumed leadership of the transportation organization, serving as president of Transportation North America from 2013 to 2016, UNFI said. Before joining DHL, Gehr was a senior manager at Ernst & Young in Harrisburg, Pa.
“His unique experiences — from integrating emerging technologies to effectively utilizing data analytics — will enhance UNFI’s long-term operating model and help accelerate our innovation,” Dorne added. “Jim is an engaging leader, and we’re excited to welcome him to UNFI.”
Green (right) had continued to serve as UNFI’s supply chief until a successor was named. In his new position in fresh foods, he will report directly to UNFI Chairman and CEO Steven Spinner.
“I want to thank Paul for the tremendous job he’s done overseeing our supply chain throughout many years of rapid growth and change,” stated Dorne, who began as COO on March 8 after serving as chief information and administrative officer. “I truly appreciate Paul’s leadership, exemplary results, partnership and friendship, and know he will do an amazing job overseeing our fresh business.”
The nation’s largest publicly traded grocery distributor, UNFI serves natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers, and foodservice providers across North America.