The Ben E. Keith Co. announced that its executive vice president, Jim Lavender, is retiring Sept. 30.
He began work for the company 43 years ago, in the fall of 1968 in Dallas, according to the company’s news release. He eventually transferred to the Fort Worth, Texas, foods division as a sales representative. Later with the division, he was involved with its purchasing, operations, and with the acquisition of Dillaha Fruit Co. in 1975.
From there, Lavender was promoted to general manager of the Little Rock, Ark., branch. Then he moved to the company’s general office to lead a new unit focused on large chain customers. As the company grew, he assumed responsibility for purchasing, health care and national accounts departments.
He served as a board member of the Markon Cooperative and Distribution Market Advantage for nearly 20 years. He served multiple terms as board chair for both organizations. He also was a board member for the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation.