By Barbara Young
Inspiration in an organization comes from leaders who understand the source of their power: the ability to set an agenda and inspire others to execute it.
Editor’s note: The National Provisioner inaugurates its “Captains of Industry,” who contribute to the stability and growth of food processing and distribution. The business arena is powered by a range of innovative leaders, whether as senior-level company executives, entrepreneurs or trend-setters. These “Captains of Industry” make a difference to the American economy through their leadership in increasing productivity, expanding markets and creating employment opportunities, and through philanthropic endeavors. The food industry is likewise imbued with a caliber of men and women whose contributions are not only noteworthy, but also enduring. This year’s group includes Rosemary Mucklow, executive director, National Meat Association; Jose Carlos (J.C.) Gonzalez-Mendez, senior vice president, McDonald’s North America Supply Chain Management; Mark Haskins, founder, president, and chief executive officer, MBA Poultry; Robert “Bo” Manly IV, executive vice president, Smithfield Foods Inc.; and Richard Armstrong, chief supply chain officer, Sara Lee Food & Beverage.
Learning how people arrive at their professional destinations is an interesting and intriguing journey of discovery.
Consider Rosemary Mucklow, the dowager of the National Meat Association (NMA) with 40 years of service to her credit.
“I landed in my first position, as secretary to a new executive director of Pacific Coast Meat Jobbers Association in 1961, purely by chance, and with no background whatsoever,” she reports. “I was encouraged by a subsequent boss to go back to college and got a degree in accounting. But the real education came from the meat business, participating in collective bargaining and grievance resolution in the early years, and learning from the fallout of the 1967 Wholesome Meat Act, as rulemaking and change was applied.”
Mucklow gives credit to others who contributed to her rise to power as the chief executive of NMA.
“I was fortunate in the early years to be guided by strong, honest people, like the late Don Hubbard of Del Pero Mondon Meat Co.,” she says. “In the ‘70s it was Ben Goehring, Al Piccetti and the warm friendship of Dick Lyng, first as assistant Secretary of Agriculture and later as president of American Meat Institute. Dick introduced me to Philip Olsson, our longtime legal counsel, a relationship that has stood the test of time.”
Today, this diminutive woman of substance, whose towering persona commands respect and cooperation from top USDA officials and chief executives in the meat-and-poultry industry, presides over the affairs of NMA and the interests of its more than 300 members. NMA began life as the Western States Meat Packers Association in 1946 at the behest of Western Independent Meat Packers, a group with the mission of overseeing the welfare of the Western meat industry for processors and packers.
“NMA has proved that it has staying power to drive issues of great concern, and working with NMA leadership to ensure that this continues into the future is of the greatest importance to me,” Mucklow says.
Defining NMA, Mucklow says it is the product of bringing together several organizations, and being the place where the industry firms can come for honest, competent assistance to work through issues, and solve problems. “NMA has also emerged as a responsible voice for developing policy positions on issues of industry interest and concern,” she concludes. “It is not an exclusive club. It is rather an inclusive, broad-based representative group of meat packers and processors who can merge their business interests into an effective and credible voice to lawmakers and government officials.”
To be sure, Mucklow is a true “Captain of Industry,” whose name is a synonym for “service” on behalf of meat-industry causes. She is among a select group of food-industry leaders debuting The National Provisioner’s first salute to innovators who contribute to the stability and growth of food processing and distribution.
Captains of industry are pebbles in a pond inhabited by a diverse population of people who toil on behalf of public and private companies. Their leadership traits and experiences earned on the battlefield of life and their personal and professional endeavors set them apart from the pack. They are chiefs among Indians, visionaries in companies and innovators in other walks of life. They share a common trait, for the most part, of being born with the capacity to attract the loyalty, respect and trust of their fellows, to say nothing of their admiration. They generally are not glory hounds, but rather consider professional and personal service an ultimate accomplishment to define their lives and build their legacies. They move through the ranks of various institutions to occupy seats of power often with inspiration from their own heroes.
“My mom is my hero for teaching me the value of positive thinking even in the eye of a storm, and for her capacity to love and give back to the community,” affirms McDonald’s J.C. Gonzalez-Mendez. “My dad, for showing me what character is all about and for teaching me that pride and humility can co-exist.”
Sara Lee’s Armstrong draws inspiration from his father and General Colin Powell, the first African-American to serve as America’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State under former President George W. Bush. “I have tremendous respect for him because of his integrity. He is a classy guy and a powerful person on a worldwide scale,” Armstrong says. “I heard him speak about a leader being somebody who can take complex situations and come up with simple solutions that everyone can understand.”
Armstrong’s father, one of 11 children from a poor family in Texas, broke the poverty cycle through a career in the military.
“I attribute much of my success to the experiences of growing up in a military home,” Armstrong says. “Because we moved often, I learned to develop relationships quickly. Additionally, we lived outside the United States, so I learned how to work with and respect other cultures.”
Men such as J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller are recognizable as 19th century industrialists also called captains of industry. Others include Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company and father of the modern assembly line used in mass production — in short a pioneer. The food industry is also a reservoir where pioneers grow.
Meet Mark Haskins, who owned and managed a flock of 1,600 commercial laying hens as a 5th grade student. Born and reared in southwestern Indiana, Haskins grew up in a family of generational farmers. His father owned a feed mill business. Today he is fulfilling his agribusiness destiny as a poultry-industry pioneer with his introduction of air-chill technology to the United States. His company, MBA Poultry, uses purified air to chill birds rather than nonpotable water to significantly reduce freshwater waste and solid waste during processing.
Bo Manly earned distinction as a pioneer during his first tour of duty with Smithfield by orchestrating and executing the delivery of several plane loads of hogs from England to begin the company’s genetically lean program.
“It was the largest movement of animals on an international basis in the history of the world over a period of 14 months,” Manly recalls.
In this salute to our own “Captains of Industry,” we take pride in the accomplishments by our industry, our people and their contributions to our country.
For more information on the companies in this feature, visit www.nationalprovisioner.com, digital library, magazine archives.