EconTracker News

Nov 12, 2012 5:00 PM by Russ Thomas - KPAX News

Vann's employees hear from new CEO

MISSOULA - After weeks of worry and waiting, employees at Vann's in Missoula met their new president and CEO, Greg Regelbrugge, early Monday morning.

The message to Vann's employees gave comfort and hope to a group that have been through an emotional rollercoaster in recent months.

"I loved what I heard for the first time in months, I felt like Vann's was really going to come back. It was exciting to hear that someone cares as much about us as we care about this company," Vann's shipping administrator Diane Westbrook said.

A few weeks ago employees heard that they'd be out of work, so the announcement that Vann's had a buyer, McMagic Partners, and would continue to operate, has given associates a new outlook.

Incoming president and CEO Greg Regelbrugge says Vann's has a few things going for it that made the purchase a good risk.

"The consistency of revenue shows that they're not losing market share. The customers are coming in to buy, and that's a really unique thing in this economy," he said.

Regelbrugge says he will be assessing the company, and making decisions on direction as he gathers information. He added that jobs will be evaluated once they know where more people are needed and where they may be overstaffed.

He also believes Vann's offers a unique advantage to Montanans that competitors can't match.

"This is a good alternative to a national chain. We're locally owned and our reputation over the past fifty years is going to be continuing going forward," he told us.

Product advisor Wayne Friend, a 25-year veteran of Vann's, is energized about the company going back to its roots.

"It's fantastic to know that we're going to get back to the basics of how Pete grew the company. It's really for everyone, including our communities that supported the store through everything we've been going through," Friend said.

Regelbrugge says he is excited about Vann's future, and is ready to build it back to the strong company it's been in years past.

"As one of the owners, this is important to me, I'm vested in this industry, and I'm vested in this company and this community."

Regelbrugge added that the plan for the next 12 months is to reach level-footing, and work on building profit beyond that.

Vann's employs more than 150 people across Montana with stores in Kalispell, Billings, Bozeman, Missoula and Hamilton, as well as at a warehouse in Lolo.

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