• 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
    2010.

    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
    Ukrop’s Threads.

    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
    ago.

    “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.

    ggilligan@timesdispatch.com
    (804) 649-6379

  • “Relaunch Chesterfield” Aims to Reopen Chesterfield Businesses

    What?

    Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce, Chesterfield Cabinet and Chesterfield County have united to support a coordinated relaunching of the Chesterfield economy.   Relaunch focuses on issues for businesses and elected officials around the county to consider as reopening plans are made. "Relaunch Chesterfield" is meant to work in conjunction with the Governors’ Covid-19 Business Task Force recommendations as they too begin the work of relaunching Virginia’s economy. 

    "Relaunch Chesterfield" will be developed in partnership with business leaders across a broad array of industry sectors and organizations around the county, including but not limited to the following sections:

    • Health and Safety First/Internal & External Customers
    • Retail
    • Restaurants
    • Hospitality
    • Arts & Entertainment
    • Healthcare Services
    • Personal Care Service Industry
    • K-12 Education & Childcare and Daycare

    "Relaunch Chesterfield" is meant to serve as a start to the conversation for returning more employees and businesses to work, rather than serving as a final, prescriptive set of answers or solutions.

    We are currently seeking participants to work and lead in these individual industry workgroups.  Please submit your information to be considered for an interested industry cluster workgroup by clicking here.    

    Why?
    Businesses are resilient in creating opportunities to thrive in challenging conditions.  Businesses ability to pivot their business model and allow others to learn from that change is important for the greatest number of businesses to relaunch. By joining efforts and bringing businesses and resources together we have the ability to make adjustments quickly and start commerce sooner. 

    When the Commonwealth is ready to open Virginia, Chesterfield will be ready to open.

    How?
    We are looking for 8-10 people for each industry workgroup indicated to develop a framework for success.  Models and examples are already available as a guide from across the Country.  Workgroups using best practices can have the best opportunity for a successful plan.