By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 05, 2023 at 10:03 AM

Following a nearly year-long search, Ray Simpkins has been selected by the Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative board of directors to serve as the co-op’s next general manager.

Simpkins will succeed outgoing general manager, Pam Mehnert, who will retire in June following an impressive 42-year career with the local cooperative grocer.

Simpkins, who will begin his tenure at Outpost on May 22, brings over two decades of retail store management experience to the role, including leadership positions at several national grocery chain locations. 

Simpkins earned his MBA from Strayer University and bachelor’s degree from Wright State University. Most recently a District Manager for Dollar General in the Greater Columbus area in Ohio, Simpkins’ career has included management roles with The Home Depot and Sam’s Club. Simkins also assisted in leading the construction and local market launch for a Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.

“After a nationwide search, we are thrilled to have found a general manager who brings such a rich background and extensive experience in grocery retail,” said Outpost Board President Ashley Fisher in an announcement about the hire. “Ray is an energetic team leader with a passion for customer service. We’re excited to watch him excel at Outpost.”  

In his new role, Simpkins will lead one of the country’s foremost natural foods cooperatives through a time of renewed growth in a saturated grocery market.

“I can’t wait to move to Milwaukee and meet Outpost employees, owners, shoppers and community partners,” said Simpkins. “Together, we’ll continue to create healthy, diverse, and sustainable communities by offering the area’s largest selection of regionally and locally sourced organic products, all within an engaging consumer experience.”

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.