Tyson Foods on November 18 announced the creation of several new leadership positions to support future growth in its domestic and international protein and prepared foods businesses. The move aligns with the company's stated long-term strategy, which is to accelerate growth in the international, poultry and prepared foods arenas through innovation and services while cultivating the best talent in the food industry.

"We have produced exceptional results since fiscal 2010 and are poised for substantial future growth," said Donnie Smith, president and CEO. "These new positions will bring focus to our growth platforms, reinforce our operational excellence and give our team members broader experience in our company. This further demonstrates our commitment to cultivating and retaining top talent."

 Several new senior leadership positions will report to the CEO:


  • President of Prepared Foods, Customer and Consumer Solutions - Donnie King, currently senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods
  • President of Poultry - Noel White, currently senior group vice president of fresh meats
  • President of Fresh Meats - Steve Stouffer, currently senior vice president of beef margin management
  • Group Vice President of International - James Young, currently group vice president of international
  • Executive Vice President of Strategy and New Ventures - Hal Carper, currently group vice president of R&D, logistics and technical services
  • Executive Vice President of Program Management - Russell Tooley, currently senior vice president of corporate and international human resources


"Separating our poultry and prepared foods businesses will give us sharper focus in two critical, expanding areas," Smith said. "I'm excited that Noel White, a proven leader in our fresh meats business, is moving to Arkansas to run our poultry business. And I'm equally excited that Donnie King will devote his considerable talents to our growing value added foods business and creating an integrated sales and marketing organization to deepen our relationships with customers."

Two new leadership positions will report to the president of prepared foods, customer and consumer solutions:


  • President of Prepared Foods - Wes Morris, currently group vice president of consumer products
  • President of Sales and Marketing and Chief Commercial Officer - Devin Cole, currently group vice president of foodservice

The following senior leadership positions will continue to report to the CEO:

  • Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer - Dennis Leatherby
  • Executive Vice President and General Counsel - David Van Bebber
  • Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer - Ken Kimbro
  • Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs - Sara Lilygren

The new leadership positions are expected to be fully in place by the end of the company's second fiscal quarter in March 2014.


Jim Lochner, chief operating officer, to retire at end of fiscal 2014

In addition, Smith announced Jim Lochner's decision to retire in September 2014 after a more than 30-year career at Tyson Foods and IBP, inc. Lochner has served since 2009 as the company's chief operating officer and overseen much of the turnaround during the last four years. He is relocating to the company's fresh meats headquarters in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, where he will support the fresh meats business. Following retirement, Lochner will serve the company in an advisory capacity through the end of 2017.

"This company and I personally cannot thank Jim Lochner enough for his huge contribution - which continues for several more years," Smith said. "His retirement and these new leadership positions fulfill a long-planned, orderly succession involving Jim and the highly talented team he has helped groom over the past four years."

Donald E. "Buddy" Wray, special assistant to the president and CEO, to retire February 2014

Smith also announced the February 2014 retirement of his special assistant, Donald E. "Buddy" Wray. Wray served the company in various leadership roles until his retirement as president and COO in 2000, but in 2008 was called back by Don Tyson to provide strategic counsel.

"Buddy has invested more than 50 years of his life in Tyson Foods," Smith said. "He has been a trusted advisor to me during a phenomenal period in our company's history," Smith said. "His wisdom and guidance helped us deliver outstanding results and his nearly six decades of experience have been a wonderful gift."

To help manage the organizational transitions, Smith also announced the appointment of Russell Tooley as executive vice president of program management. Formerly a senior vice president of corporate and international human resources, Tooley will now report to the CEO.

"During this period of our company's evolution, I want to be sure we devote the proper time and talent to our greatest growth engines. I've often said, 'What got us here won't get us there,'" Smith commented. "The fact that we already have much of the talent we need to continue our development into a global food business is proof that we have the strongest bench in the business, and I join them in looking forward to an awesome future."