Michael Helgeson will retire as the CEO of GNP Company, effective November 3. Steve Jurek, current executive vice president of operations and administration at GNP Company, will step into the company’s top leadership position of president.
As president, Jurek will replace the CEO position with the same level of authority and responsibility, and will report to Jason Logsdon, CEO of Maschhoff Family Foods, GNP Company’s parent company. As a member of the Maschhoff Family Foods Executive Committee, Jurek will also help guide the vision of the combined chicken and pork businesses.
“I wish Mike the absolute best in his retirement, and commend him on the strong company, leaders and team he is leaving behind,” said Logsdon.“Steve’s breadth and depth of experience and leadership make him a strong successor. I congratulate him on his new appointment. He’s a trusted leader within the organization and the poultry industry, with the business and people skills needed to thrive. I am confident in his ability to lead the growth strategies of GNP Company.”
Helgeson an accomplished leader for GNP Company
Helgeson is a third-generation leader with the company. During his 21 years as CEO of GNP Company, he has led the $400 million company through tremendous changes, challenges and growth. Among his accomplishments are:
- Directing the company to nearly triple in sales
- Leading the successful acquisition and expansion of the company’s operations in Arcadia, Wisconsin
- Leading the acquisition of a further processing plant in Luverne, Minnesota;
- Guiding a successful recovery after a fire at its processing plant in Cold Spring, Minnesota
- Helping with the launch of fixed-weight scannable products, which revolutionized how fresh chicken is packaged, merchandised and sold;
- Launching many new products, including the Just BARE brand of chicken offering no antibiotics ever, vegetable and grain fed, and traceability; and value-added Gold’n Plump items like chicken patties and bake-in-the-bag seasoned whole chickens
- Developing memorable marketing campaigns developed over the years; and
- Leading the company through the acquisition of GNP Company by Maschhoff Family Foods
Helgeson also serves as the chairman of the National Chicken Council, having been named to that post October 1, 2013.
“After more than 40 years in the business, I felt the time was right for me to retire,” stated Helgeson. “I’m pleased with the choice of Steve Jurek as president. His strong financial background, drive for business excellence, and commitment to our customers will help the company successfully move forward while preserving the caring culture, community support, and customer-driven focus upon which our company was built. Knowing the company’s future will be managed by a strong leadership team under Steve’s direction, gives me great confidence in the continued success of GNP Company.”
Jurek looks forward to role as president of GNP Company
Jurek joined GNP Company (then Gold’n Plump Poultry) in 1977, holding a variety of positions before being named to his present position as executive vice president of operations and administration in 1997.
“I truly appreciate the confidence and opportunity that are being provided to me by Jason,” stated Jurek. “I am also very grateful for the many opportunities given to me by Mike and the Helgeson family over the years. The future we’ve laid out for GNP Company is extremely exciting, and one I am ready to move forward—along with the company’s many experienced and talented team members. I am deeply committed to preserving the values upon which GNP Company is built, ensuring successful alignment with Maschhoff Family Foods, and pursuing our vision of becoming the 1st choice for fresh ideas in natural chicken.”
Prior to assuming his current role of executive vice president of operations and administration in 1997, Jurek worked with teams throughout the company and held the positions of controller in 1981; and vice president of finance and administration, chief financial officer, and secretary/treasurer, starting in 1988. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minnesota, and a master of business administration with a finance emphasis from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul. Jurek is a Certified Management Accountant and board member of the Midwest Poultry Consortium, Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence, and Boy Scouts of America. He began his career in accounting at Fingerhut Corporation, Minnetonka, Minnesota.
Executive vice president of customer processes to have expanded duties
Tim Wensman, GNP Company’s executive vice president of customer processes (sales, marketing, product management and development, and supply planning), will continue in his role with expanded responsibilities, yet to be finalized, in the leadership of public relations and communications across the Maschhoff Family Foods organization. He will report to the president and participate in Maschhoff Family Foods Executive Committee meetings.
“We are fortunate to have found the depth of leadership skills needed in the existing team at GNP Company. The continuity and 71 years of combined experience Steve and Tim provide are invaluable in ensuring GNP Company’s success,” stated Logsdon. “I look forward to working with Steve, Tim and the GNP Company leadership to discover new ways of creating value in the marketplace and enhancing our ability to meet the emerging needs of our valued customers and a growing global protein demand base.”