LEXINGTON, Ky. — Valvoline Inc. CEO Sam Mitchell is retiring and will leave the Board of Directors effective September 30, 2023, the corporation announced today. Mitchell will be succeeded by Lori Flees, current president of retail services. Flees will also join the board.
Flees was named president of Lexington-headquartered Valvoline’s Retail Services business segment in April 2022. In that role she oversees Valvoline’s fast-growing retail services business, which operates more than 1,800 company-owned and franchised service center locations serving consumer and fleet customers.
Flees started her career in the automotive industry 35 years ago within General Motor’s GMC Truck division. After 17 years at Bain & Co., a global strategy consulting firm, Flees spent nearly a decade at Walmart where most recently she led all aspects of Walmart’s Health & Wellness business across more than 4,800 locations.
She joined Walmart to lead corporate strategy and development, and later moved into leadership roles that included the incubation of new retail capabilities via the deployment of emerging technologies, strategic partnership development with companies such as Google and Microsoft, and the leadership of the pharmacy and optical business of Sam’s Club.
“On behalf of the Board, I want to thank (Mitchell) for his leadership of Valvoline for the last 21 years,” Rich Freeland, chairman of the Valvoline Board of Directors, said. “During this time, Sam has led the company through a period of exceptional growth and performance, which included a very successful IPO in 2016, and most recently, the restructuring and separation of Valvoline’s Retail Services and Global Products businesses. Today Valvoline is the leader in preventive automotive maintenance.”
“Leading this company has been the highlight of my career. I will always be grateful for the experience of working with the talented and dedicated people at Valvoline, and I wish them all future success,” Mitchell said. “I have had the privilege of working side by side with Lori Flees for the past year. Throughout her career and in our time working together, she has proven to be a strategic thinker with a natural ability to unite teams and drive results. The board and I have great confidence that she is the right leader for Valvoline as the company focuses on its future as a high-growth, high-margin, pure-play retail services business.”
Flees will continue in her role as president, in addition to serving as CEO.
Flees “is a talented executive with a proven track record of delivering results,” Freeland said. “Over the past year, Lori has become a highly respected member of the management team. Her substantial retail and leadership experience uniquely qualify her to lead Valvoline as it continues to deliver best-in-class retail automotive services. She has quickly gained intimate knowledge of the business and has galvanized the team around Valvoline’s strategic direction. Lori’s experience in strategy development, incubating innovative retail capabilities, and her deep consumer focus make her the ideal choice to oversee Valvoline’s next phase of growth as a pure-play retailer.”
“It is an honor and a privilege to be named the next CEO of Valvoline,” Flees said. “Together with our talented team and strong franchise partners, we will continue to deliver a quick, easy, and trusted customer experience, while investing strategically to drive best-in-class value creation for our shareholders. I want to thank the Board for their trust in me. I also would like to express my appreciation to Sam Mitchell for his mentorship and successful leadership of Valvoline through a critical time of change and growth.”
A trusted name in preventive vehicle maintenance with an average consumer rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars*, Valvoline Inc. operates and franchises more than 1,800 service center locations through its Valvoline Instant Oil ChangeSM and Valvoline Great Canadian Oil Change retail brands, and nearly 300 independent Valvoline Express Care locations in North America.