Baldwin Richardson Foods, a leading manufacturer of custom food and beverage ingredients and one of the largest African-American family-owned and-operated businesses in the food industry, announces Erin Tolefree as president, a promotion from Chief Operating Officer.
Tolefree assumes the role of President and Eric G. Johnson will remain as CEO. Tolefree joins the three percent of Black women at the C-suite level and 20 percent of female C-suite executives in the food and beverage industry.
“Erin is an innovative leader with proven business acumen, dedication and the entrepreneurial spirit to successfully lead the company into the future,” Johnson says. “It is with great pride that today I celebrate Erin, who represents the third-generation of entrepreneurial leadership in our family. Her promotion to the role of President is confirmation to the continuity at Baldwin Richardson Foods and commitment to continue our journey as a privately-owned family business. I’m confident her leadership will bolster our business while continuing to raise the bar of excellence through our people-first commitment, accountability to our customers and the communities we serve.”
Since joining the company in 2001 as a National Accounts Manager, Tolefree has ascended through the ranks and across business units. Her demonstrated broad-based impact to the business in 2019 earned her the role of Chief Operating Officer.
“I extend my hearty congratulations to Erin Tolefree on her promotion to President, Baldwin Richardson Foods,” says Marion Gross, SVP and Chief Supply Chain Officer, McDonald’s North America. “She is absolutely the right person for the job, and I am confident that under her leadership, Baldwin Richardson Foods will excel in their category and increasingly add value to customers like McDonald’s. It’s wonderful to see an experienced and qualified, female leader take the helm.”
Baldwin Richardson Foods supplies some of the world’s most iconic Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) and Food Service brands with the highest quality products. Tolefree’s strategic vision has been instrumental in accelerating the financial performance of the Company to approximately $300M in sales.
“While we celebrate the accomplishments that have contributed to our successful and consistent growth, I’m honored to lead the charge in advancing Baldwin Richardson Foods’ evolution as an industry leader,” Tolefree adds. “We will continue to ensure service, innovation, accountability and performance remain at the forefront of our commitment to our strategic partners. As we look to the future, we embrace the need to be agile to change in our industry and society.”
Tolefree shares the passion for and commitment to community service that’s ingrained into the core values of Baldwin Richardson Foods. She actively participates in community service initiatives with organizations including Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Rochester, Food Link and the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Women’s Council.
Baldwin Richardson Foods, a Company with a legacy of demonstrated commitment to community service, strongly supports childhood advantage and educational programs. The Company has established The Baldwin Richardson Foods Scholars Programs at Babson College and Spelman College. Both scholarships provide annually awarded full-tuition four-year scholarships. Tolefree and her sister, Cara Johnson Hughes, established the Scholarship in 2018— both are Spelman alumnae. The Company has also built a primary and middle school, L’ecole Novelle Zoranje, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and supported its operations since the earthquake of 2010. The Company is involved in various other community-focused projects.