Tyson Foods names AGR alum new CEO12/2/09 8:18 AM
SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Dec. 2, 2009 – Chairman of the Board John Tyson, of Tyson Foods, Inc., announced that the Board of Directors of Tyson Foods has chosen Tennessee-Knoxville alumnus Donnie Smith, formerly senior group vice president of Poultry and Prepared Foods, to be the company's president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. Additionally, Jim Lochner, currently senior group vice president of Fresh Meats, has been named the company's chief operating officer.
"The Tyson Board and the Tyson family congratulate Donnie Smith and Jim Lochner and wish them the best for the future success of our company," Tyson said. "We appreciate Leland Tollett stepping into the CEO role earlier in the year and working so hard to help turn the company around. Significant progress has been made. I have worked with both Donnie and Jim for a number of years and am convinced that they are the right leadership team for this next phase in the evolution of our company. Their extensive experience inside the company has fully prepared them to continue the progress we have made in the last year."
Leland Tollett, who has been serving as interim president and CEO of the company since January, will continue in the coming months to assist Smith and Lochner in the transition, and he will be available for strategic advice and support. "When I was called back to help get our company back on course, I was asked how long I would be in this role. I jokingly said, 'somewhere between three months and three years, hopefully sooner than later.' That time is now, and our company has been profitable for an extended period of time and it has been personally gratifying to me to have been able to lead a great team of people in turning our company around in a relatively short time. I know Donnie and Jim are ready to take on these new responsibilities and lead the great team of managers we have in our company. I've enjoyed being back at the company this year, but while I'll continue to be available for advice should it be needed, the amount of time I spend on company matters will be reduced significantly going forward," Tollett said.
Donnie Smith, 50, joined Tyson Foods in 1980 after graduating from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a degree in Animal Science. After seven years experience in various live poultry production jobs, he moved to the corporate headquarters in Springdale, Ark., to join the Tyson commodities purchasing group. Since then, he has had various leadership roles in the company, including Purchasing; Environmental, Health and Safety; Food Safety and Quality Assurance; Manufacturing Services; Information Systems; and Logistics, before becoming senior group vice president of Poultry and Prepared Foods.
"I started with Tyson Foods 29 years ago, and I've been very fortunate to serve in several roles for this great company," Smith said. "At every turn, I learned a different aspect of what we do, but the most important thing I've learned is that we have an amazing team of individuals that are dedicated to producing results. I am honored that I will now serve these team members as the leader of our company, and I am certain that 2010 and the years to come are going to be great for our shareholders, our customers, and other stakeholders. Yes, we, like everyone else, have seen some struggles in these economic times, but I am certain that through the leadership of our team, the efforts of all our team members with our customers, and the focus on operational excellence, we will succeed."
Smith was initiated by Alpha Kappa in 1978.
information courtesy of Tyson Foods