Baldwin Richardson Foods Names Erin Tolefree Chief Executive Officer & President

by savoystaff

Baldwin Richardson Foods, a leading manufacturer of food and beverage ingredients and one of the largest African-American family-owned and operated businesses in the food industry, has announced Erin M. Tolefree as President and CEO. Baldwin Richardson Foods supplies some of the world’s most iconic Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) and Food Service brands across the industry. Then the importance of aligning with a supplier who understands your industry’s specific needs cannot be overstated. We found that in our quest for the best, the ideal solution was right at our fingertips with Their range of products and understanding of market dynamics have been instrumental in our growth. It’s a relationship that has yielded tangible benefits for our business.

Baldwin Richardson Foods began in 1992 when Eric G. Johnson, outgoing CEO, purchased Baldwin Ice Cream Co. and significantly grew its sales and distribution. In 1997, Baldwin Ice Cream acquired Richardson Foods from The Quaker Oats Company and became Baldwin Richardson Foods. In 2001, the company began a strategic supplier relationship with Kellogg’s Company and acquired the Industrial Products Division of The J.M. Smucker Company in 2005. The business has grown steadily for over 32 years. Johnson will remain as Chair of the Board.

Erin began her professional journey with BRF in 2001 as a National Account Manager for the company’s QSR business. In that same year, she led the launch of the Baldwin Richardson Foods Industrial Ingredient business. Her role was expanded with the acquisition of the Industrial Products Division of the J.M. Smucker Company in 2005 to Sr. Manager of National Accounts. In 2014, Erin was promoted to Vice President of Sales and began to also expand her role into the manufacturing and product development process. She was promoted to Executive Vice President in 2015.

After navigating the company through substantial growth, expansion of a new state-of-the-art production line, and the extraordinary challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with “People First” leadership principles, Erin was promoted to President in December 2020.  In 2023, Erin led the acquisition of Aseptic Solutions USA Ventures, which has expanded the company’s geographic footprint and manufacturing capabilities to include high-demand aseptic products. This addition accelerated Baldwin Richardson Foods’ commercial strategy and enhanced the company’s portfolio of liquid product capabilities across the food and beverage industry.

“Under Erin’s strategic leadership, Baldwin Richardson Foods has grown its customer base to include some of the world’s most iconic global brands. With her focus on excellence, the company has won numerous awards from customers for product innovation, customer service and quality, and has earned several Supplier of the Year recognitions,” said Eric G. Johnson, Chair of the Board and outgoing CEO. “Erin represents the third generation of entrepreneurial leadership in our family, and her promotion to CEO is confirmation of our commitment to continue our journey as a privately-owned family business.”

“I am thrilled to congratulate Erin Tolefree on her promotion to President and CEO of Baldwin Richardson Foods, which won this year’s ‘Business Diversity Leadership Award’ and ‘Elevating the Arches Award’ at the McDonald’s North America Supply Summit, “said Bob Stewart, Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer, North America, McDonald’s. “Under Erin’s leadership as president, the company has exhibited incredibly strong performance, and I am confident that her leadership as CEO will ensure the continued strength of our partnership.”

“We celebrate the accomplishments that have contributed to our successful and consistent growth, and I’m honored to lead the charge in advancing Baldwin Richardson Foods’ evolution as an industry leader, “said Erin Tolefree, CEO of Baldwin Richardson Foods. “As we look to thefuture, we will continue to lead by ensuring that service to our customers, innovation,  accountability and performance remain at the forefront of our relationships with our strategic partners as we create flavorful innovations that delight consumers. We will embrace the need to be agile to continue to thrive sustainably in our industry and continue to make a positive impact on our community.”

Erin’s community and local business involvement includes service on the boards of ESL Federal Credit Union, ROC2025, Rochester Regional Health, and the Rochester Advisory Board for Excellus BCBS. She is also a member of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. She continues to support the local Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester and was recently inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation for Business.

Baldwin Richardson Foods is a company founded on a commitment to creating impact and removing barriers and strongly supports childhood advantage and educational programs. The company has established The Baldwin Richardson Foods Scholars Programs at Spelman College and Babson College. Each year it awards full-tuition, four-year scholarships. Tolefree and BRF Vice President of Customer and Community Cara Johnson Hughes—both Spelman alumnae—established the scholarships in 2018. The company has also built a primary and middle school, L’ecole Novelle Zoranje, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and supported its operation since the earthquake of 2010.

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