Hanging it up

by Bryan Salvage
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Bruce Schweitzer, the 38-year Hormel Foods veteran who was vice president of operations, Refrigerated Foods, as well as president of PFFJ LLC - Farm Operations, retired at the end of April.

Schweitzer joined the company in 1974 as a production management trainee at the Fremont, Neb., plant where he was promoted to supervisor later that year. After working in a series of supervisory positions, he was named linear program coordinator at Hormel Foods’ corporate office in Austin, Minn., in 1980. Two years later, he was promoted to superintendent of sausage and cured and smoked meats at the Atlanta (Tucker, Ga.) plant and then served as plant superintendent at the Dold Foods (Wichita, Kan.) plant. Schweitzer next served as plant manager of the Houston, Texas, and Atlanta plants.

In 1989, he was named general manager of further processing for Jennie-O Foods in Willmar, Minn., and was promoted to director of operations one year later. Schweitzer became vice president of production for Jennie-O Foods in 1991 and senior vice president of marketing and sales for Jennie-O Foods in 1995. He returned to Fremont as plant manager in 1999 and relocated back to Austin as plant manager in 2004. He was named to his most recent position in 2005.

“This man made a personal connection with all of the team members in his facilities,” said Jeffrey Ettinger, Hormel Foods chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer. “When you went on a plant tour with Bruce Schweitzer, you had better be ready to lose him for periods of time because he would shake hands, inquire about families and just do the things that someone who cares about his teammates is apt to do.”

Ettinger sought out Schweitzer’s advice and opinion in a wide array of areas. “Bruce had his finger on the pulse of the culture of Hormel Foods,” Ettinger says. “He honored the traditions of our fine company, but he was also very willing to consider and support new ways of doing things.”

Schweitzer held just about every position one can hold in operations, says William Snyder, Hormel Foods’ senior vice president, supply chain. “He really learned the business from the ground up,” he adds. “We’ll certainly miss his knowledge of operations, but I think even more – we will miss his drive and positive attitude.”

Jeffrey Nuytten, vice president of operations, Refrigerated Foods Division, and 32-year Hormel veteran, has been chosen as Schweitzer’s successor. During his Hormel career, Nuytten has worked in various foreman, superintendent and plant-manager capacities.

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