OKLAHOMA CITY – Lopez Foods Inc. (L.F.I.), the largest Hispanic-owned food manufacturing company in the U.S., announced the reorganization of its corporate board and management team, including the retirement of its chairman, John C. Lopez. Company officials explained the change is part of the succession plan the company adopted as part of its ongoing efforts to keep pace with technological and manufacturing advances.

Mr. Lopez is retiring from the top leadership position he has held since 1992, when he and his wife, Patricia, assumed control of the manufacturing plant. Mr. Lopez will continue to provide his counsel as Chairman Emeritus of L.F.I.'s board of directors.

"Pat and I are proud of the influence we have had on establishing Lopez Foods as a leader in our industry, but it is time for us to pass the baton to those who are prepared to take the company to the next phase of its planned development," Mr. Lopez said.

Lopez Foods' 185,000 square foot meat-processing facility is located on a 32-acre site in western Oklahoma City. The plant produces beef patties, pork sausage patties and Canadian-style bacon for the McDonald's restaurant chain and supplies a variety of other meat products to a variety of customers, including Applebee's, Burger King, Costco, Kroger's, Sam's Club, Sonic, Target and Wal-Mart Stores.

L.F.I. experienced substantial growth during the past two decades under the Lopez's direction. One highlight was its 97% growth rate in 2001 over the previous year's annual sales, propelling it to the 13th largest U.S. Hispanic-owned business in gross sales.

"John's leadership and commitment in adapting Lopez Foods to the needs of an increasingly diverse customer base has been a major factor in the growth of our company," said Ed Sanchez, L.F.I. president and chief executive officer. "Involvement of his sons, John — recently elected to the board of directors — and Dave in the company's management will ensure the Lopez presence and perspective in our growth and development."

L.F.I.’s progress over the past 20 years has been based on the grooming and development of its management team to meet the long-term objectives identified in the formative stages of L.F.I.'s evolution, Mr. Sanchez said.

"John's and Pat's influence is evident throughout L.F.I. and forms the base upon which this company is founded. We wish them every success as they embark on the next leg of their lives' journey — spending more time with their children and grandchildren and enjoying the fruits of their labors," Mr. Sanchez said.

The company employs nearly 450 associates in its corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility in Oklahoma City facility, making it one of the city's major employers — and with the production of approximately 300 million lbs. per year, it is also one of Oklahoma's leading manufacturing companies.