In his 44-year career with Safeway Inc., Bruce Everette went from grocery bagger to executive vice president, responsible for retail operations of 10 divisions, more than 1,700 stores and 180,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada. He had gone as far as he could go except for CEO, a job he didn’t want, and his thoughts naturally turned to retirement.
“I was going to retire,” Bruce recalls, “but I wasn’t sure what I would do. Then I met a golf pro from Florida in what was obviously a divine appointment. Her father had died the day before but here she was, golfing with me because her father made her promise not to grieve but to celebrate his going home. She encouraged me to read the book Halftime by Bob Buford. I also read his book, Finishing Well, and he opened my thinking to marketplace ministry. It changed my life.
“I was impacted by the idea of moving from success to significance. I came to realize there were thousands of employees and millions of customers I could influence in my current position. I asked myself: What can I do to make a long-term difference in their lives? I began to focus on teaching and inspiring leaders to combine Christian principles with good business practices in building relationships to produce extraordinary results.”
Bruce had earned the right to be heard. He had garnered numerous awards throughout his career, including the food industry’s MDA Lifetime Achievement Award, Arizona’s Retailer of the Year Award and had been inducted into the California Grocers Education Hall of Fame. He used his credibility to help shape a new generation of leaders.
Thirteen years after that fateful golf outing, Bruce did leave Safeway. In hindsight the timing was perfect in that the company was subsequently sold. He’s still active in the business world, sitting on several boards, consulting with companies and doing executive coaching, but the organization that now takes up most of his energy and expertise is Pinnacle Forum.
Change of Venue
“A work associate of my daughter suggested I meet Steve Fedyski two years before I left Safeway,” Bruce says. “I also met Chuck Bryant via Skype and learned about what Pinnacle Forum was doing. I was deeply impressed. I’ve since gotten involved on several levels, from chairman of the board for the Arizona Chapter to director on the National Board, and I particularly enjoy facilitating a Next Generation Forum.”
Family has always been important to Bruce, who says, “I’ve been married to my best friend, Lyn, for more than 40 years. Our two grown daughters, Heather and Misty, each own their own business and we all live in Scottsdale.”
Church is also important to the Everettes, who attend Scottsdale Bible Church. Internationally, Bruce is involved with Revival Baptist Church in Kiev. Dr J. C. Mitchell from Winter Park, Florida has worked with Pastor Yaroslav Machynsky to plant 10 churches toward his vision of 20 churches in Ukraine. Dr. Mitchell was the minister who led Bruce’s childhood family to the Lord and also baptized him at the age of eight.
“We reconnected 15 years ago and he told me about the incredible work going on there,” Bruce explains. “Revival Baptist Church was started in the very building where Nikita Khrushchev told the world that the Bible would disappear. Another church serves an area around Chernobyl and is the only Bible-teaching church for more than 50,000 people..” www.revivalkiev.org.ua/en/history.html
Showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Bruce points out that, “Retirement isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible. It’s okay to change direction in our work, but it’s not good to quit.”