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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 2 years ago

New leader of century-old retailer has plans to encourage collaboration, employee growth

Matt Beall was previously president of Bealls Stores.
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Early in his career, Matt Beall remembers people telling him that when they walked into his dad’s office, it would feel like they were talking to a family member.

Matt Beall’s father, Bob Beall, was president and CEO of Bealls from 1980 to 2006. In December, Matt Beall was named CEO of the Bradenton-based company himself. “A kind, calm, appreciative setting — that, of course, starts from the top,” Matt Beall says. “It starts with the leaders within the business and spreads everywhere. It’s something I’m very serious about maintaining.”

Beall takes over the CEO role from the first nonfamily member to run the company, Steve Knopik. Knopik is now executive chairman.

As Beall takes the reins at the retailer — a company with more than 550 stores in 17 states, including Bealls, Bealls Outlet, Burkes Outlet, Home Centric and Bunulu — he brings with him lessons learned from working in several positions at the company. The company did $1.39 billion in sales in 2018. 

Over the years, Beall has been a sales associate, distribution center merchandise processor, store manager, buyer and more. Most recently, he was president of Bealls Stores.

Being a store manager provided a key learning experience. In that role, he learned what customers wanted and needed along with what they thought the company was doing well and what it could improve. “The instant feedback you get is really phenomenal,” he says. “It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. We love our guests. We respect them and take them very seriously.”

“We love our guests. We respect them and take them very seriously.” — Matt Beall, CEO, Bealls Inc.

One of his interests as CEO is to break down silos and encourage collaboration between teams within the company, such as Bealls Outlet and Bealls Stores. “We have a lot of really smart, talented people,” Beall says. “Sharing that knowledge back and forth between the two businesses can be very important to having an even brighter future.”

Beall has other ideas for improvements, but he also wants to keep some things the same, namely the company’s culture. He says Bealls is well known in the vendor community for its culture of treating employees and business partners with respect.

In a crowded retail marketplace, one of the main reasons Bealls is able to compete well is because it’s a private company, Beall says. “A lot of times, I think companies can make poor decisions because they’re trying to hit quarterly numbers to satisfy Wall Street,” he says. “At Bealls, we’re looking at what decision is best to make for the long term for the company.”


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