Rob Twyman once owned a natural foods restaurant in San Francisco’s Marina District. Now, Twyman is the new head honcho in North California for Whole Foods Market, the world’s largest natural and organic food retailer.
Twyman succeeds David Lannon as president of Whole Foods’ Northern California region. Lannon was elevated to executive vice president of operations at the grocer’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. Twyman most recently was vice president of Whole Foods’ Northeast region. Twyman’s and Lannon’s promotions were announced May 24.
“I am excited beyond belief to be leading this remarkable region,” Twyman told Examiner.com. “I got my start in Northern California, so the opportunity to come back after 17 years and share some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years to help the region grow is an opportunity of a lifetime.”
In his new post, Twyman oversees 36 Whole Foods stores in a region encompassing Northern California and Reno, Nev. Twyman, who is married with twin sons, works from the retailer’s regional headquarters in Emeryville.
Twyman launched his career in the natural foods business in 1983, holding down a summer job at a Bread & Circus store (now Whole Foods) in Wellesley, Mass. He joined Whole Foods full time in 1993 after shutting down his San Francisco restaurant, Kinetic Lunch.
Among the items on Twyman’s plate as the new Whole Foods leader in Northern California are the openings over the next couple of years of five more stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. Examiner.com chatted with Twyman about his new job.
Examiner.com: What are your goals in your new role?
Twyman: My goals are to continue to develop authentic, innovative, customer-driven stores that are deeply connected to their communities, while nurturing growth, creativity and culture for our team members.
Examiner.com: What is it about Whole Foods that draws such loyal, enthusiastic customers?
Twyman: I believe that our customers are attracted to our stores for many of the same reasons our team members want to work here. Our stores are welcoming, vibrant and exude a passion for food like no other market. They also serve a higher purpose in helping make the world a better place through our mission-based programs … .
Examiner.com: What drew you to the grocery business?
Twyman: I don’t consider myself to be working in the grocery business so much as I am in the business of helping people to lead happier and healthier lives – this applies to customers and team members alike. Nothing is more rewarding than to see people get inspired by what we do and change their lives in a positive way. I believe that food can heal, both in the nourishment it provides and the sense of community it can create. Whole Foods Market has figured this out better than any food retailer out there, and that is why I love working here.
Examiner.com: What would you tell someone who’s never shopped at Whole Foods to persuade him or her to visit one of your stores?
Twyman: You know, grocery shopping can be a chore for many people because in most places there is very little connection with the food that they are buying – it’s just filling up your grocery cart because you have to eat. Shopping at Whole Foods Market is a sensory and a community experience. You smell, taste, see and hear the food. Shopping at Whole Foods Market harkens back to a simpler time where food markets were the hub of the community. It’s not just where you shop; it’s where you come to see friends and family, catch up over a great cup of single-origin coffee or an amazing meal created by restaurant-quality chefs. Whole Foods Market is the community market to a modern, busy world.
Examiner.com: What’s one thing about Whole Foods that people may not realize?
Twyman: I think people still don’t realize the difference Whole Foods Market is making in so many peoples’ lives around the world through the Whole Trade Program and Whole Planet Foundation. These are two (initiatives) that are literally changing economies and peoples’ livelihoods by supporting business development, fair wages and labor practices, and providing a revenue stream for farmers and business owners in developing countries. Not to mention, the product we are getting through Whole Trade is truly outstanding.
Examiner.com: At which Whole Foods store in the region will you be shopping?
Twyman: I will be shopping primarily at the Lafayette store (in Contra Costa County). But, of course, I will be spending plenty of time in all the terrific stores as I make my way across the region.