Charles Randolph Bell
After studying at Memorial University, Charles Randolph Bell went to work in the family business, Charles R. Bell Ltd., in 1965. At that time, it was mainly a wholesale distribution business that was started by his father in 1933. Randy’s primary role in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s was overseeing the marine and recreational side of the business. He was named vice-president in the mid 1970’s and took on the food brokerage division selling to grocery wholesalers and retailers.
From there, he embarked on a very successful and aggressive acquisition and growth strategy. When Randy joined the firm, the total sales of Charles R. Bell were in the order of $2,500,000. At the end of his career, sales had ballooned to $125,000,000. During this same period, the number of people employed at Charles R. Bell grew from 37 to 426.
Randy’s appetite for expansion began when he purchased J.W. Randell of Corner Brook in 1982 adding the Ski-Doo brand of snowmobiles. This was followed quickly with the acquisition of Steers Limited and the Moto Ski brand. Steers also brought new lines of business, including Whirlpool appliances and RCA electronics and the beginning of Bell Diesel and Industrial. An expansion of this business followed shortly with the opening of a branch in Dartmouth, NS.
Then, there was the procurement of the retail chain, Cohen’s Home Furnishings. To remain relevant in the grocery business he began acquiring his competitors. Later, he turned his attention to real estate and started to grow a portfolio of impressive properties.
Randy realized that as the business landscape was changing, Charles R. Bell needed to adapt and change with it. He strategically began selling businesses and acquiring new resulting in continued success.
Randy was president and CEO of the Bell Group of Companies until his retirement. He became chairman of the Bell Group in 2002 and remains in that positon today. He has successfully transitioned the individual businesses to his children.
Randy Bell has long been actively involved in the community. He has served on the board of the International Grenfell Association for 39 years and has worked extensively with the CNIB locally and nationally and the Salvation Army Advisory Board. He was appointed to the Newfoundland Health Care Corporation Board and was a long-standing member of the Highliner Foods Board of Directors and a member of the Rotary Club of St. John’s.
With his wife Ginny, Randy served as an aide de camp to a lieutenant governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, was a member of the board of Resource Can and was an honorary co-chair of the Fund Raising Committee for the building of the Ronald MacDonald House. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Randy Bell’s business career has been described as being understated and unheralded. The case for his business success, his entrepreneurship and his desire to give back to his community over many decades is undeniable.
Randy will join his father, Charles Renfrew Bell, in the Junior Achievement Newfoundland and Labrador Business Hall of Fame.