SPECIAL REPORT: Catching up with Deven Scott

by Bryan Salvage
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Retired top executives who return to lend a helping hand to their former employers aren’t unheard of in this industry. When Dick Bond, former president and CEO of Tyson Foods Inc. announced on Jan. 5, 2009, he was resigning effective immediately, Leland Tollett, former Tyson chairman and CEO, quickly stepped up as interim president and CEO until Donnie Smith’s appointment to president and CEO late that year.

When Deven Scott retired after serving 11 years as executive vice president of the North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP), Reston, Va., in 2000, he and his wife, Judith, moved to scenic Fairfield Harbour in New Bern, NC, looking forward to a long and relaxing retirement. But fate had other plans.

“When I retired from NAMP the first time, my successor was Marty Holmes. He was a great choice, bright and very energetic,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, he only stayed with the association a year or so after I left. The Former Students Association at Texas A&M Univ., his alma mater, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. So, I returned to NAMP and ran the organization again for less than a year. I then recruited Joe Miller, but he stayed less than one year. I returned again and spent the better part of two years running NAMP from my home and commuting back and forth once or twice a week.

“At the same time, I was heading up a group of NAMP members for a search committee and that’s when we hired Phil Kimball, current NAMP executive director,” Scott continued. “So, 2000 was the first year I retired from NAMP. I retired again two years later and then again four years ago.”

Enjoying retirement
Scott, 75, and his wife, Judith, love their new life. “We’re right on the water,” he says. “A year after we moved here, I bought a 19-foot powerboat we had for several years. I soon learned the old adage: ‘The two happiest days in your life is the day you buy a boat — and the day you sell it.”

Scott enjoys fishing and catching blue crabs from his dock and he plays golf several times a week. “I’m about a 20 handicap,” he says.

Scott also volunteers time three to four days a week at a local hospital assisting discharged emergency room patients. “After they go home, I call them to find out how they’re doing and whether the care they received met expectations,” he says.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, Scott gets up early to deliver local newspapers to every room in the hospital...which takes several hours. “People seem to appreciate it. I get a lot of enjoyment out of it,” he says.

Life-long meat man
After serving with the US Army in the early 1960s, Scott joined the meat industry ranks and never left. A native Hoosier, he began his meat career with Emge Packing Company in Fort Branch, Ind. while in high school. He also worked there nights in the sales-shipping department while attending Evansville College.
Scott ultimately moved to the Boston area and served as executive director of the New England Wholesale Meat Dealers Association from 1966 to 1980. There, he earned the Certified Association Executive designation through the American Society of Association Executives. He also served a one-year term as president of the New England Society of Association Executives.

In 1980, Scott joined the American Meat Institute staff in Washington as vice president of member services. He also served as AMI’s liaison with state and regional meat trade associations throughout the US.

Scott joined the NAMP staff in 1990 as executive vice president/secretary. He also served from 1998 to 2000 as chairman of the International HACCP Alliance. In 2003, NAMP presented him with the prestigious NAMP award in recognition of his devotion, guidance and many achievements while serving as the organization’s leader. He was recently inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame.

When asked who in the meat industry inspired him the most, Scott names the late Marv Walters as one source of influence. Former NAMP executive vice president Stan Emerling is another. “Stan and I still communicate often,” Scott says. “He has a consulting business in the Cleveland area. He’s 85, doing fine and sounds like he did 20 years ago. I succeeded him at NAMP. I worked with him for a year or two after going to NAMP as his assistant. Stan is a very powerful influence on my success at NAMP. He is one of the greatest guys and most intelligent and ethical men I ever met.”

Fire in the belly
Scott enjoys his new life and says of his wife, Judith, “She is a real whirlwind with all of her activities: chairperson of Wednesday women's bridge club, mah jongg, golf, tennis, swimming, bicycling, among other activities.”

“I still read the NAMP and NMA newsletters and Meat&Poultry magazine on-line and talk to some of the members occasionally... like Mel Salomon, retired chairman of Allen Brothers,” he adds.

“I don’t really do any work right now,” he says. “But if Phil Kimball left NAMP today, I would be more than happy to help the association out again if I got the call.”

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