HATFIELD, Pa. – August 6 marked Philip Clemens' last day as a full-time employee of Clemens Family Corp., the six-generation diversified family business that he has been a part of for more than 50 years. Even though he has been preparing for the retirement for more than a year, seeing the day arrive was, indeed, bitter sweet.

“It has been an amazing ride. I’ve had the greatest team to coach that one could ever hope for. I love serving this team,” Clemens says.

Clemens Family Corp. is the owner of the Hatfield Quality Meats (a thriving pork-processing company), Country View Family Farms, Clemens Development Group, CFC Logistics, PV Transport and Nick’s Sausage Co. The company began in 1895 by Phil Clemens’ grandfather, John C. Clemens. Today, there are 286 family shareholders involved in the family business – ranging in age from 12 weeks old to 98 years.

Clemens has known that his retirement was fast approaching since he turned 65 years old last December. It is written into the company’s bylaws that the CEO of the company must retire at the annual shareholder’s meeting following his or her 65th birthday. In fact, Clemens was the one that insisted that be added to the company’s directives back in 2000.

“I’m a firm believer when it comes to family businesses in having mandatory retirement,” he explains. “Way too many people in family businesses stay involved for way too long.”

Clemens is passing the torch to his second cousin, Doug Clemens, a member of the fourth generation of the Clemens’ family. He has been slowly transferring duties to Doug for more than a year.
“We’ve been working alongside each other for a while,” he says. “It’s like a relay race, you have to run alongside your teammate before you can pass him the baton.”

Now that Clemens has passed the baton, what’s next? Anyone who knows Clemens knows that retirement will not mean any less work on his plate. He plans to stay involved at the company by continuing his role as a mentor in addition to becoming an ambassador to family businesses all over the country.

In MEAT+POULTRY's September issue, Clemens discusses how his career with the family business has impacted his life and how he plans to keep giving back to his company, the business community and the industry even after his retirement.