Meat and Poultry Industry News / Chicken

GNP Company CEO Michael Helgeson announces plans to retire

August 12, 2014
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GNP Company, the Midwest's leading producer of natural chicken under the Just BARE, Gold'n Plump and Sunny Roost brand labels, announced that Chief Executive Officer Michael Helgeson, a third-generation leader, has set a retirement date. Effective November 3, 2014, 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 replaces the CEO position with the same level of authority and responsibility, and reports 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."

During his 21 years as CEO of GNP Company, Helgeson led the $400 million company through tremendous change, challenge and growth, including:

·         Directing the company to nearly triple in sales during his tenure;

·         The successful acquisition and expansion of the company's Arcadia, Wis., operations;

·         The acquisition of a further processing plant in Luverne, Minn.;

·         The successful recovery after a fire at its Cold Spring, Minn., processing plant;

·         The launch of fixed-weight scannable products, which revolutionized how fresh chicken is packaged, merchandised and sold;

·         The launch of 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;

·         The memorable marketing campaigns developed over the years; and

·         The acquisition of GNP Company by Maschhoff Family Foods nearly nine months ago.

"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 joined GNP Company (then Gold'n Plump Poultry) in 1977, holding a variety of positions before being named to his present position as Executive VP 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."

Tim Wensman, GNP Company's Executive VP 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."

Prior to assuming his current role of Executive VP 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, Minn., 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, Minn.

Source: GNP Co.

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