Awards and Recipients
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senior financial executives in the United States and Canada.
Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, LLC
Jeff Gronbeck is a strategic leader and business partner in all aspects within Sara Lee Frozen Bakery (SLFB). His operational mindset, relentless pursuit of process improvements in a dynamic environment, and focus on team member growth and advancement has been critical to the ongoing market leadership of SLFB. Jeff’s guidance during the acquisition of SLFB from Tyson was essential to successfully standing up an independent organization and creating a solid operational foundation that has proven to be resilient and flexible. Most importantly, Jeff’s highly relational approach to guiding teams and individuals has enabled the organization to be extremely effective and adaptable. Examples of Jeff’s leadership include:
Jeff led the process for carving the SLFB business out of the much larger former owner. He managed a myriad of functional consulting groups while at the same time partnering with the CEO and President to recruit, hire and onboard all operational support functions (from 3 team members to in excess of 100). The carve out included the creation of an independent distribution network, a stand-alone core ERP and functional software additions (e.g. FSQA, trade program tracking, and product formulations), and HR management systems. This carve-out was completed just one year from the acquisition date.
Finance and Accounting
Jeff recruited and hired all members of his finance and accounting team. Along with those team members, all US GAAP compliant accounting policies and procedures were created, documented and adopted across the organization. Jeff is proud that his finance and accounting team has completed every external audit with no audit adjustments and zero internal control issues. Early implementation of the new lease accounting standards was implemented in 2021 with SLFB’s independent audit firm noting that this was one of the first companies to do so across their client portfolio.
Business Analytics and IT
Jeff volunteered to create and lead the information technology group. The ERP and auxiliary system selection process, implementation and subsequent upgrades and improvements have been led by Jeff and the IT team. In order to improve daily operational metrics visibility, the team led the implementation of PowerBI. This business analytics platform was quickly adopted by cross-functional users across the organization. It allows for real time measurement of business drivers including inbound order activity, production line performance, distribution fill rates, inventory visibility, and supplier performance. Further, the team implemented RedZone, a real time production line performance measurement tool that allows for visible performance metrics for line workers and supervisors that enables quick action to correct production variances. Under Jeff’s leadership, IT has become a key strategic and functional group and is viewed highly across the organization.
In order to augment the strategic value and market leadership of SLFB, the organization has closed on two acquisitions. Jeff was a key leader in the negotiation, closing and post-acquisition integration of these two entities. Jeff led the diligence and financing processes for the acquisitions, one of which was closed and integrated during the restrictive pandemic environment. These two acquisitions have been fully integrated into all aspects of SLFB.
Procurement and Co-Manufacturing
As a result of leadership changes with the operations group, Jeff volunteered to lead the procurement and co-manufacturing groups that had been historically reporting to the supply chain leadership. As a result of this change, Jeff quickly provided an operational cadence to these two groups and integrated their respective activities within the broader organization. This has allowed these two groups to more effectively communicate internally and externally while allowing for greater flexibility and timeliness of actions in today’s dynamic operating environments. Jeff encouraged the teams to establish stronger relationships with supplier and co-manufacturing partners and personally developed connections with key leaders in those organizations. Further, Jeff and the procurement team implemented broader hedging strategies in advance of the accelerating inflationary environment that has materially been under the prevailing market costs.
Jeff’s tireless leadership with managing liquidity particularly considering the more recent volatile external environment has been exemplary. Jeff has educated the SLFB organization on the drivers of liquidity and how each group can impact this important aspect of the business. Jeff has developed strong relationships with key customers and suppliers to allow for effective communication of decisions that impact SLFB’s liquidity position. As part of the M&A transactions, Jeff worked with SLFB’s lenders to enhance liquidity beyond the funding needs of the acquisitions. In order to provide an even higher level of liquidity, Jeff led and closed on a significant sale-leaseback process in 2021.
Jeff is highly relational and seeks to establish and cultivate relationships not only within the areas of his responsibility but in all functional groups of SLFB. The most rewarding aspect of his career is enabling others to succeed in their own professional pursuits. At SLFB, numerous team members have been promoted to positions they have not held previously in their careers. Additionally, several finance team members have been promoted to operations positions as a result of the team’s focus on and integration with core operations.
Prior to joining SLFB, Jeff was the CFO of PGW, a private equity sponsored global automotive parts manufacturing and distribution company with revenues in excess of $1 billion. As with SLFB, PGW was an acquisition and subsequent carve out from a much larger organization (PPG). Jeff’s leadership at PGW created a resilient and highly effective operating environment that culminated in a substantial return to its equity sponsor upon the sale of PGW. Prior to PGW, Jeff was the financial leader of several other companies where he led the successful growth and ultimate sale of those entities. Jeff began his career with Price Waterhouse where he concentrated on organizations driven by technology advancements and high growth with foundations based on an entrepreneurial mindset.
Jeff earned a BSBA degree (accounting focused) from Bucknell University and is a CPA (inactive). He is the proud father of three children (one in graduate school, one in college and one in high school). He has served on the board of Eden Christian Academy for the past 18 years.