Ukrop’s Threads uniform business names family member as CEO for the first time
Ukrop’s Threads uniform business
names family member as CEO for
the first time
By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN Richmond Times-Dispatch
Published Jul 16, 2020
Another Ukrop family member is running one of
the Ukrop-owned businesses.
Jeff Ukrop has been named president and CEO of Ukrop’s Threads, the Chesterfield County-based
supplier, manufacturer and distributor of corporate apparel and uniforms.
He replaces Bill Biedenharn, who retired June 30 after serving in that role for the last couple of
years. Biedenharn remains on the company’s board.
Ukrop is the son of Robert S. “Bobby” Ukrop, chairman and CEO of Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods,
the Henrico County-based company that makes and ships bakery and prepared foods to grocery
stores. Bobby Ukrop ran the Ukrop’s Super Markets chain before the family sold the stores in
Bobby Ukrop and his older brother, James E. “Jim” Ukrop, also a former CEO of the grocery store
business who now is a partner in venture capital group NRV, and their families jointly own
Jeff Ukrop, 46, held several roles at the grocery chain that his grandparents started in 1937
including serving as manager of stores in Ashland and Mechanicsville and as a regional manager.
After the stores were sold, he served as executive director of First Things First of Greater
Richmond (now called Relationship Foundation of Virginia), which tries building healthy
relationships in people’s lives. He also did business and organizational consulting work. For the
past four years, he worked on the development team of the Virginia Baptist Foundation.
“When they found out Bill was retiring, they approached me about running it,” said Jeff Ukrop,
who was already serving on the Ukrop’s Threads’ board. “I thought to myself that if I am ever
going to make a change back into the family business, this was a really unique opportunity. Maybe
now is the time to do it.”
The business was started as Ukrop’s Dress Express in 1993 to provide uniforms for the grocery
chain’s employees. The uniform company was spun off from the grocery business in 1998 and
expanded its focus. The name changed in 2017.
Today, Ukrop’s Threads provides custom-branded uniforms and corporate apparel for
supermarkets, convenience store chains, theme parks, quick-serve restaurants and other businesses.
It supplies the uniforms to more than 1,500 locations for more than 1 million employees.
Since Ukrop’s Threads was created, the business has been managed by nonfamily members. John
Carrico was president and CEO from its early days until Biedenharn took over a couple of years
“It is a family business but there is a level of independence from the family in terms of day-to-day
operations. From that regard, [the CEO job] was appealing,” Jeff Ukrop said.
Besides, he said Biedenharn and the team have established a great foundation for future growth.
Bobby Ukrop said he was happy his son decided to join one of the family’s business enterprises.
“Both my brother and I feel that he brings some increase connectivity to a real good base of our
business,” said Bobby Ukrop, who serves as co-chair of the Ukrop’s Threads board with his older
brother. “Customer service, whether it was at our food stores, our banks or Ukrop’s Homestyle
Foods, has been the competitive advantage. Jeff understands that approach to business.”
A large part of the business at Ukrop’s Threads is supplying uniforms to supermarket chains,
Bobby Ukrop said.
“Having been part of the food business, Jeff understands grocery retailing. Relationships matter,”
Bobby Ukrop said. “Jeff brings a youthful exuberance to the business. And he has always been
involved in team building and that’s what he likes to do. Jeff is a really good team builder .... and
he gets to build on a really good foundation that has been laid for the future.”
The company’s office and warehouse operations are in a building off Midlothian Turnpike east of
state Route 288 in Chesterfield. It has been there since 2016.