Bradford Executes Strategic Leadership Transition
New President and Chief Executive Takes the Helm
Posted June 2016
Bradford Soap Works, the Rhode Island-based leader in personal care manufacturing for over a century, is undergoing a strategic leadership transition that is positioning the company for pivotal growth. On May 16, 2016, Stuart Benton took the helm as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Bradford and its operating subsidiaries as John Howland moved to the position of Executive Chairman.
The 140-year old company has a long history of innovation, redefining manufacturing and stimulating growth by anticipating changes in their industry. Following this company ethos, the board has committed to taking another important step in Bradford’s growth and development. The appointment of Mr. Benton at this time codifies a process to strategically align a clear vision of Bradford’s future with having the right leadership team in place to fulfill that vision.
Mr. Benton has spent the past five years as Chief Financial Officer at Bradford, during which time he has made a significant impact on the company’s operations and business growth.
John Howland said, “We know that Stu will be a catalyst for laying a foundation for the future of Bradford.” He continued, “Since he joined us in 2011, Stu has proven his incredibly solid grasp of all aspects of the business and an understanding of how to drive growth. He has great vision, exudes leadership and is truly a ‘next generation’ leader.”
The Howland family is an enormous part of Bradford’s heritage. Beginning in 1946, John's father, Allen, transformed the company from a manufacturer of industrial soap into a manufacturer of bar soap. John joined Bradford in 1978, became the company’s President in 1983, and succeeded his father as Chairman in 2000. Under John’s leadership, Bradford has become a prominent force in the personal care industry. Today, John's son, Graham, has front-line responsibility for many of Bradford’s largest accounts as Vice President – Business Development. John Howland will remain an active contributor to Bradford’s future as Executive Chairman.
In accepting the position of President and CEO, Mr. Benton said, “I am thrilled to take on this new role. I have great passion for Bradford – our rich heritage, our strength in the marketplace, and our history of innovation.” He added, “Over the past five years, I have seen our organization continue to evolve as a leader in the industry. Our goals are to concentrate on creating products that inspire our customers and redefine the industry, to drive the company forward by building on our culture and to focus on initiatives that are strategically important.”
Mr. Benton is leading a collaborative revamping of the company’s positioning statement, which will be the cornerstone for how the company runs internally, and also how it operates in the marketplace. Under his direction, the statement’s mission outlines several top priorities, including always being customer focused, providing a healthy and supportive environment for the company’s people, ensuring a continued emphasis on innovation, and positioning Bradford for smart strategic decisions in the marketplace regarding how and where the company grows the business.
Benton has a BS in Accounting from Bentley University, an Executive Masters of Business Administration from Suffolk University and almost 30 years of experience in accounting, finance, operations and general management. He and his wife, Maureen, and two daughters live in North Easton, Massachusetts. In his free time, Stu enjoys coaching youth club soccer, family activities and golf.
Founded on a platform of ‘Innovation through Experience’, Bradford is a trusted American resource that helps its customers build great brands. As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialty personal care products, its market research department and broad customer base give it a unique real-time understanding of industry trends. State-of-the-art development laboratories provide custom formulations, product development and testing services. It was the first U.S. bar soap manufacturer to receive organic certification; it has certification from the Rainforest Alliance; and it is a member of the Roundtable For Sustainable Palm Oil. Founded in 1876, the company flourishes on its core values of heritage, innovation, customer focus, passion, accountability and safety. The company has nearly 1000 employees and is headquartered in Rhode Island, with facilities in Indiana, California and Mexicali, Mexico.
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