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CEO baton passed from father to son

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Over to you: Spencer Butterfield has been promoted to chief executive officer of Butterfield & Vallis, taking over from his father Jim who has led the company since 1982 (Photograph supplied)

Spencer Butterfield is the new chief executive officer of Butterfield & Vallis, which today celebrates its 100-year anniversary.

He takes over from his father Jim Butterfield, who has completed a record-equalling 36 years at the head of the company.

The wholesale distribution business, which has depots in Pembroke and Devonshire, is marking its first century in business by rewarding its staff with gift vouchers. It has also announced a $100,000 donation to be shared between six charities.

Spencer is the fourth generation of the family to lead the company, which was founded by his great-grandfather H. St George Butterfield in 1918.

He said: “I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to join such a spectacular team of people who are dedicated to serving our customers with some of the world’s strongest global brands and innovative food solutions.

“I have had great mentors who have helped prepare me to lead our team and ensure the standard set by my dad, uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather is upheld and we continue to enhance our product selection and service. I’m thankful for the support of our supplier partners and the loyalty of our customers and I’m honoured to be a part of this wonderful team.”

His father, who will continue as chairman of the board, said: “I’m proud and excited that in our hundredth year of business the baton will be passed on to Spencer who is well equipped to lead our wonderful team of staff and I look forward to witnessing the continuation of top-quality service to our customers into our second century.”

Spencer joined the family business in 2007, having previously cofounded and managed a yacht donation company and commercial real estate investments in Florida. He started as vice-president of consumer products at the company’s depot at Orange Valley, and became chief operating officer in 2010.

During his 11 years at Butterfield and Vallis, Spencer has led advances in technology, including an online ordering platform, environmental sustainability, and professionalism of the workforce.

Under its founder, the company made its first trade agreement to supply Peek Freans biscuits to the Bermuda market. More trade agreements were made and the business grew further when Dudley Butterfield took over from his father in 1946. It moved from its premises on Front Street to East Broadway. However, in 1982 a fire gutted the East Broadway warehouse and the business teetered on the brink of closure.

Dudley’s sons Jim and George took over and rebuilt the company with a new warehouse at Orange Valley, Devonshire. George based himself in Canada and managed a broader view of the company, while Jim was the man on the ground in Bermuda. The company acquired competitors JS Vallis & Co in 1993, and Winter-Cookson, Petty five years later. Jim bought out his brother’s interest in the company in 2007. Jim’s 36 years at the head of the company equals the length of time his father guided the business.

The company today has more than 200 staff, three divisions, 48 trucks and warehouses at Orange Valley, and Woodlands Road, Pembroke.

Earlier this year, Jim said he was happy to see Spencer taking on more of the day-to-day responsibilities of the company, allowing him to be less involved. Away from the business he is involved in the Sloop Foundation, and other community work and philanthropic endeavours.

To date, he has spent a total of 41 years working with the company in an official capacity. He had a five-year spell as a junior salesman from 1975 to 1980.

Speaking to The Royal Gazette as his son’s appointment as CEO was confirmed, Jim said: “I’ll be doing what I’ve done for the past year or so. I’ll sit in on the management groups each week, so I’ll be staying in touch. I may take more time to ride my bike and see family in Colorado, and I’ll continue to work with the Sloop Foundation.”

To celebrate its centennial, the company is giving every staff member two $100 vouchers, one for a grocery store and one for a restaurant of their choice. It is also donating $100,000 to six charities, namely Scars, Age Concern, YouthNet, The Reading Clinic, Salvation Army and Family Centre.

Butterfield & Vallis has also launched a companywide drive to donate 100 pints of blood, 100 tins of soup to local soup kitchens, and 100 hours of employee time to community service efforts. To this end, the company will close at 3pm tomorrow to allow staff to work for charities and causes across the island. The organisations include KBB, Bermuda National Trust, Salvation Army, Windreach, SPCA, Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo, Cedar Tree Vets, and several rest homes and nurseries.

Butterfield & Vallis has a website at www.bv.bm

Milestone celebration: Jim Butterfield, second left, and son Spencer Butterfield, second from right, with staff members presenting $100,000-worth of cheques to six charities as Butterfield & Vallis marks its 100-year anniversary today (Photograph supplied)