Donnie Smith to helm at Tyson Foods

by Eric Schroeder
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SPRINGDALE, ARK. — The board of directors of Tyson Foods, Inc. has selected Donnie Smith, currently senior group vice-president of poultry and prepared foods, to be the company’s president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. He will succeed Leland Tollett, who has been interim president and c.e.o. since January. 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,” said John Tyson, chairman. “We appreciate Leland Tollett stepping into the c.e.o. 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.”

Mr. Smith joined Tyson Foods in 1980, and after seven years of experience in various live poultry production jobs, he moved to the corporate headquarters in Springdale 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.
Mr. Lochner joined IBP, inc., later purchased by Tyson, in 1983 as director of research. Previously, he was a quality control food technologist at Oscar Mayer Foods and a laboratory technician at the University of Wisconsin. In his first 14 years at IBP, Mr. Lochner held several different officer positions in various quality control and technical services areas. He became executive vice-president of IBP in 1997, responsible for all of IBP’s beef and pork plants. In 2000, he was promoted to president and c.e.o. of IBP. After Tyson Foods acquired IBP in 2001, he was named group vice-president of Tyson Fresh Meats. He then was named Tyson Foods’ senior group vice-president of margin optimization in 2005 before becoming senior group vice-president of Fresh Meats in 2007.

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