Bentley alumna Lori Bender King is taking Stonewall Kitchen to the next level. The Double Falcon—she earned a BS in finance in 1989 and an MBA in 1991—was recently promoted to president and chief operating officer of the York, Maine–based gourmet food purveyor as the company prepares to focus on its wholesale business, with a goal to become more accessible to consumers both nationally and internationally.
King’s professional path started with a short stint in banking and six years as a financial analyst. She landed at Stonewall Kitchen in 1998, and got to work immediately. Over the course of her career, she streamlined the firm’s distribution and manufacturing processes; created human resources and accounting departments; worked on merchandise planning; and led successful forays into catalogues, e-commerce and retail stores. Annual sales have jumped from $5 million to $60 million.
“We’ve grown so much, so quickly,” says King. “It’s been a new project each year.”
The expansion brings challenges, particularly in the overseas markets, which include everything to label restrictions to tax requirements. King says her Bentley MBA showed her how such challenges were really opportunities.
“Bentley’s graduate school taught me how to learn,” she explains. “It gave me the confidence to say, ‘I don’t know, let me go find out.’”
As captain of Bentley’s women’s basketball squad, King also learned the value of a good team. In her kitchen, there can’t be enough talented chefs.
“It’s all about collaboration and teamwork,” says King. “I don’t go into any meeting and try to solve a problem with one department. Everyone has respect for other people’s roles.”