In 2015, Brian Unmacht became the first appointed CEO for Bartell Drugstores who was not a member of the Bartell family. Prior to Unmacht, George Bartell was Chairman and head of the 127-year-old, Seattle-based, family-owned drugstore chain for over 25 years.
The Bartell family has four generations involved in many facets of the business. However, after realizing the fourth generation was not yet positioned to manage the company, the family formed a board that consisted of five outside members, including Unmacht, that would oversee the company’s day-to day operations.
The spokesperson for Bartell Drugs, Ric Brewer recently spoke about Brian Unmacht’s decision to step down after two years as CEO. Brewer said that Unmacht has left the company in a good position to further grow the business and after much discussion with Bartell family members and other members of the leadership team, it was mutual decision to part with the company. Brewer said that Unmacht had made the decision to step down, so he could pursue other professional goals and take time to focus on some personal objectives.
During Brian Unmacht’s time with Bartell, he worked feverously with the executive leadership team in finding new ways to compete with some of the industry’s giants like Walgreens, CVS and Amazon. Unmacht was highly successful in developing niche opportunities that would disrupt their competition. Bartell stores began offering local favorites like Seattle Chocolates, and they also partnered with other popular local brands such as Snoqualmie Ice Cream and Caffé Vita, to offer scoops of ice cream, snacks, or an espresso from the coffee bar.
Unmacht also connected with several local breweries, to sell some of Seattle’s best craft beers in their stores, in addition to the multi-national brands like Budweiser and Heineken that they already stocked.
Before joining Bartell, Brian Unmacht worked at Recreational Equipment Inc. for 27 years, serving as vice president and chief operations officer.
While attending college, Brian Unmacht worked for his father who owned a small drugstore chain. Unmacht helped with digitizing and managing the company’s records and financials. For nearly a year after graduation, he backpacked throughout many parts of South Asia and enjoyed skiing in Europe. When he returned home, he landed a job with REI where he managed stores in Tempe, Arizona and Chicago, Illinois. After overseeing new stores in Japan, Unmacht moved into the role as vice president of REI’s international operations.
Bartell Drugs currently has 62 stores located throughout Seattle, Washington region with headquarters located in downtown Seattle.