Birko co-founder dies at 94

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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HENDERSON, Colo. – Florence Smith Powers, 94, co-founder, former president, CEO and chairman of Birko until she retired in 2001, died on Feb. 8 in Denver following a long illness. She co-founded Birko in 1953 with her first husband, Ward Harris Smith, in their Ogden, Utah, garage. Ward Harris Smith passed away in 1977.

Alkaline cleaners and Tripe Wash for use in federally-inspected meat plants were the first Birko products. The company has since evolved into a leading provider of food-safety solutions to the protein processing, food and beverage industries.

"Florence had the foresight of looking to the future for Birko," said Kelly Green, Florence's granddaughter, Birko's chairman and third-generation owner. "She was a pioneer for women in a field traditionally dominated by men and was recognized in 1994 by the National Meat Association as ‘Industry Person of the Year.’"

Powers launched Birko's transportation division to provide premier customer service and on-time delivery — and as an increased value-add for the company’s customers.

"Florence and Ward found a niche in creating value added chemistry for the food industry,” said Mark Swanson, Birko's current CEO. “The culture that they created has accountability to the customer as paramount to everything we do. This culture remains the key to our success."

Memorial services will be at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, Feb.18, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, University Hills Ward, 2710 S. Monaco Pkwy., Denver, Colo. Memorial contributions can be made to the Ward Harris Smith Memorial Scholarship program at Texas A&M, the National Meat Association Scholarship Foundation or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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