Regional wholesaler Unified Grocers has named Bob Ling its president and CEO, effective May 1. Ling, who has been president of Unified since June 2011, succeeds Al Plamann, who announced his retirement earlier during the company's Annual Shareholders' Meeting.
"Bob Ling is an outstanding administrator and a thoughtful and creative leader," said Dick Goodspeed, chairman of Unified Grocers. "Having spent 16 years as a top executive at our company, he understands our business, he knows our retail members and customers, he has built strong relationships with the vendor community and he works well with our associates. We believe that Bob Ling is an excellent choice to lead our company at this point in time."
Prior to being named president, Ling served as EVP, general counsel and secretary, a position in which he was responsible for the company's human resources, labor relations, real estate and government relations functions.
"I have all the confidence in the world that Bob Ling will be an effective and dynamic leader for Unified," Plamann said. "The succession plan that the board and senior management put in place more than a year ago is now setting the stage for future growth. I believe the future for Unified is in very good hands."
Before he joined Unified in 1996, Ling held senior-level positions with retail drugstore and supermarket companies. He was VP, general counsel and secretary for MegaFoods Stores, Inc., in Mesa, Ariz., and also served as acting president and CEO. Ling also had a similar position with Reliable Drug Stores, Inc., in Indianapolis, Ind. Earlier in his career, he was a partner at Milwaukee, Wis.-based law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, concentrating his practice on employment and labor law.
Ling currently serves on the board of directors of the National Grocers Association (NGA) and was chairman of the board of the California Grocers Association (CGA) in 2009, recently serving as chairman of the board of trustees of the CGA Educational Foundation. Previously, he served on CGA's executive committee, was a member of the government relations committee and the association's political advisory committee.
Founded in 1922, Unified Grocers is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.