CEO retirement

West Liberty, Iowa-based West Liberty Foods's former CEO Ed Garrett retired on May 31, 2022.

Garrett started with West Liberty Foods in 1999 as the vice president of operations. He was promoted to president & CEO in 2004. Throughout his tenure, Garrett led the organization to several prestigious awards, including the Dupont Qualicon Food Quality Award in 2008, Subway’s Vendor of the Year in 2012 and Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ Processor of the Year in 2017, among many others. Ed was also honored with leadership awards in 2007 and 2013, and was recognized in 2013 by Meatingplace Magazine as a Knowlton Award Honoree. His most recent recognition by The National Provisioner named him a recipient of their “25 Years, 25 Icons” award.

“Ed has been instrumental for West Liberty Foods,” said Paul Hill, chairman, West Liberty Foods Board of Directors. “Ed’s leadership has allowed West Liberty Foods to grow into the organization we are today. We thank Ed for his long standing commitment to our organization, and wish him the very best that retirement life has to offer.”

Over Garrett’s 23 years with the company, West Liberty Foods expanded into three additional locations in Iowa, Utah and Illinois, growing from 820 to 2,700 team members. The company also successfully achieved Landfill Free verification, meaning less than 1% of its total waste goes to landfills.

“My time spent with the West Liberty Foods family has been so rewarding,” says Garrett. “I’ve spent twenty-three years surrounded by the hardest working people in the industry, and I look forward to seeing our next generation of leadership succeed just the same.”

CEO appointment

The company promoted Brandon Achen to president & chief executive officer, effective May 31, 2022.

Achen is a 16-year industry veteran who started with West Liberty Foods as an intern and has since seen a long tenure in operations, supply chain management and key customer relationship management for the organization. He was promoted to president in 2020. Throughout his time at West Liberty Foods, Achen has gained valuable experience in operations scheduling, engineering, and executive management while also taking on the challenges of risk management, supply chain disruptions and the recent global pandemic.

In 2014, Achen received the “30 Under 30 Award” at the International Production and Processing Expo. He is a graduate of Iowa State University and is Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) by the APICS organization. Achen is also a standing board member of the Iowa Turkey Federation and the National Turkey Federation. Born in Iowa and raised on his parent’s turkey farm, Achen quickly learned the skills of properly caring for turkeys while managing a farming operation, making him a well-rounded choice to lead a company owned by a cooperative of farmers. 

“Our Board of Directors and executive management team are excited for our next generation of leadership,” said Paul Hill. “Brandon has extensive experience with our major customers and vendors, drives innovation and process improvement, and knows our organization from the farm throughout our facilities. We are confident Brandon will lead West Liberty Foods to further growth and success as we continue to forge the future of proteins for the food industry.” 

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to lead our great organization,” said Achen. “We have a lot of things to be proud of and optimistic about at West Liberty Foods, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for us.”

In order to ensure a smooth transition in leadership, and as part of the company’s succession plan, Ed Garrett and Achen worked together for the past several years to immerse Achen in all facets of the company’s business.

Sustainability Leadership Award

The Business Intelligence Group awarded West Liberty Foods the Sustainability Leadership Award in the 2022 Sustainability Awards program. The Sustainability Awards honor those people, teams and organizations who have made sustainability an integral part of their business practice or overall mission.

West Liberty Foods has been working in sustainability for over 10 years, initiating efforts by becoming a Landfill Free company in 2012. The company strives to maintain this position in its sustainability efforts, now focusing their sights on becoming a responsible, sustainable organization throughout its supply chain — from the farms their turkeys are raised on through their manufacturing processes, and all the way to the end user of their products. West Liberty Foods is ultimately seeking to reach a net zero carbon footprint and continues to share processes and successes with other businesses and competitors in hopes that those throughout the manufacturing industry can work together toward a common goal.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the sustainability efforts and achievements we’ve seen over the past decade,” said Brandon Achen, West Liberty Foods CEO. “Our Environmental team continues to go above and beyond, finding new sustainability practices to pursue and successfully implementing policies and procedures that will ensure our carbon footprint is minimal.”

“We are proud to reward and recognize West Liberty Foods for their sustainability efforts,” said Maria Jimenez, chief nominations officer, Business Intelligence Group. “It was clear to our judges that their vision and strategy will continue to deliver results toward a cleaner, more sustainable world. Congratulations[.]”

Source: West Liberty Foods