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Developing Solutions to Current & Future Problems 

Stephanie Bean
Vice President of People Strategy and Human Resources
Ace Mart Restaurant Supply 

For Stephanie Bean, leadership isn’t about achieving big results; it’s about the little moments that positively impact the lives of others. “The day that I lose sight of working for others is the day that I need to hang up my leadership hat,” says Bean, vice president of people strategy and human resources at Ace Mart Restaurant Supply. “I fully believe that I’m in a position to serve, and supporting people along the way is one of the greatest blessings in my life.”

The seed for Ace Mart was first planted when Norman “Gus” Gustafson envisioned the opportunity to provide small, mom-and-pop type restaurant operators with convenient access to in-stock, affordable foodservice equipment and supplies. This vision was brought to life in 1975 when Gus and his son, Paul, bought a small building in downtown San Antonio.

“My grandfather believed in the cash-and-carry concept, and built an operation centered on multiple retail locations throughout the state of Texas,” Bean says. “To this day, the retail operation is our largest sales channel and is what Ace Mart is known for.” The company is also known for maintaining a large inventory that supports foodservice operators’ replenishment needs.

Over the last decade, Ace Mart has expanded beyond the retail stores. Today, the company offers multiple options for how customers choose to shop. It also relies on an efficient distribution network, which allows Ace Mart to customize delivery options and help its customers get the supplies they need when they want them.

From the Classroom to the Boardroom
Having worked in public education for a decade, Bean had one mentor in particular, Herminia Espinosa, who helped her understand that people need to know that you care before they care about anything you ask them to do. “Rather than worrying about incomplete assignments or low grades on a test, I needed to get to know students and they needed to believe that I cared about them,” she explains. “This genuine care is something I have applied to my leadership style in the classroom as well as in the corporate world.”

Bean continued her leadership development when she joined a key personnel group through Vistage in mid-2022, calling it a “wonderful opportunity” to learn alongside leaders from other organizations and gain insights into how they operate their businesses. Some of the topics discussed at Vistage meetings have led to significant changes at Ace Mart, including how the company runs meetings, how it supports the community through charitable giving and the recent addition of allotting volunteer hours to all full-time team members.

“Building a framework to allow our teams time to support the community through volunteering is one way that we want to foster a positive impact beyond our typical operations,” Bean says.

Strong Building Blocks
Looking ahead, Bean says Ace Mart is building the next generation of leaders — a goal that the company intentionally incorporated into its strategic initiatives. One of those initiatives is the integration of behavior profiles to better understand one another and how each person approaches his or her work. “We’re actively building this skill across the company on an individual basis,” Bean says, “as well as with our leaders across the state.”

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