Bruce Phlegar

Position title: CEO/GM

Website: Roanoke Co+op

Photo of Bruce Phlegar

Bruce Phlegar is the CEO/GM of the Roanoke Co+op in Roanoke, VA, a role he has held for twenty-seven years. His work in small-medium Co-ops, and medium-large regional natural foods organizations, has presented both extensive opportunities and challenges. Bruce’s experience is wide-ranging and includes new store development and multiunit management, being a one-person admin department, and building diverse, local food systems. When he is not analyzing and tweaking operational expectations, or planning for future growth, you may find him replacing a sink drain in the deli. More recently, Bruce took the lead role on a large outdoor community art installation, and he is currently helping a local non-profit design and source equipment for a small retail grocery store in one of Roanoke’s overburdened and underserved neighborhoods.

Early in his four-decades of leading organizations, Bruce became a passionate student of human behavior and recognized the importance of intentional cultural development. “Consider this,” Bruce notes, “Staff members will naturally form a culture, with or without a leader’s involvement, and Co-ops are more successful when their culture’s foundation is sound. As much as I would like to think otherwise, I cannot match my staff’s shared wisdom, hard work, and commitment. What I can do is guide the narrative of our culture by setting clear expectations and by implementing policy and programs that support positive culture growth, while promoting and protecting the virtue of culture itself.” His message: “Build an organization that you are proud of. A place where you want to work.”