The man who helped open the H-E-B in Bryan’s Tejas Center has announced his retirement after more than 17 years at the store.
During his time in the community, Rich White has served as board president for the Brazos Valley Food Bank and chairman of the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce, among other roles.
He will retire as the general manager of the H-E-B on Villa Maria Road next month and return to his home state of Utah with his wife Carolyn, whom he met in a checkout line while he was working as a cashier in 1982. White said his retirement plans include spending more time with his four children and 11 grandchildren.
White said the Bryan-College Station community has always been warm and welcoming.
“What stands out to me is how giving this community is, and how generous [residents] are in their support of both business and nonprofit alike,” he said. “It has been really eye-opening and inspirational to see the giving hearts that are out there in this community that really care to make this a place to work and raise families.”
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White came Texas after H-E-B recruited him from a grocery store in Phoenix in 1992. He started his H-E-B career at an Austin store and later moved to Waco, where he managed five stores and more than 1,000 employees.
White then worked at a Shaw’s grocery store in Boston for two years before returning to H-E-B and moving to College Station in 2004 to open the Villa Maria Road location, which today has more than 400 employees.
Mike Newkham, the general manager at the Tower Point H-E-B in College Station, said he worked with White for a year when the Villa Maria Road store opened, and they have since become great friends.
“Rich has always been a people person,” Newkham said. “He was just always really good with people, and was always just really genuine and good to know.”
White studied biology at Utah State University and food industry management at the University of Southern California. He received a business management degree from the University of Phoenix.
He said his volunteer efforts started as soon as he was settled in Aggieland. He served on the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce board for six years. He joined the Brazos Valley Food Bank board in 2017 and currently serves as the immediate past president. He was also a guest lecturer at Texas A&M University and said he hopes to continue speaking to college classes in Utah.
“It is hard to put a defined, quantifiable impact [during my time here], but when you see that the community is growing and that you have represented a company like H-E-B in a manner that the company gets recognized for their involvement, that to me brings some satisfaction,” White said. “We are doing things that are paying back the community for supporting our business in a way that is probably larger than people realize or expect. I have seen events that have been able to happen because H-E-B has been involved.”
White said his involvement in area organizations “is just a matter of caring about the community.”
Glen Brewer, president of the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce, said White stands out as a leader in the community, and “that is incredible because our community is full of extraordinary leaders.”
“He cares about people, but he sees everyone as an individual person, with individual wants, and needs and he looks for ways to help solve any problems that might be hindering someone’s growth and happiness,” Brewer said. “Leaders like Rich White don’t come along every day, and I am thankful that we were lucky enough to have him come to our community. We are blessed that as he retires, we are left a much better place because of his efforts.”
Nate Sharp, president of the College Station Texas Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said White served as the church’s bishop for four years in a congregation for young adults.
“In our church, this is a volunteer position with no financial compensation; yet I imagine Rich spent at least 20 to 30 hours per week volunteering,” Sharp said. “He connected easily with that age group, and he was able to be a positive influence on so many young adults during that time.”
White said he hopes he has set an example that “it is possible to give of yourself and your time,” even with a busy work schedule.
“I feel being an effective employee, businessman, manager, it is possible to do both [work and volunteer],” he said. “I would hope that people that I have worked with have seen my commitment both to my company and to the community and see that I cared.”