MERRIAM, KAN. – Steven J. Bresky, president, chief executive officer and chairman of Seaboard Corp., died on July 10 in Kansas City, Mo. at the age of 67.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sudden passing of Steven J. Bresky, president, CEO and chairman of the board of Seaboard,” the company said in a statement released on July 13. “The entire Seaboard family mourns this loss. On behalf of our board of directors, management team and employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to Steve’s wife, Ellen, and children, Elizabeth and Jack.”
The statement went on to note that Steve Bresky, who was the third-generation of his family to lead Seaboard in its 102-year history, “led and grew the company substantially to where Seaboard is today. His exceptional work ethic, long-term commitment to Seaboard’s partners and businesses, mandate that the company produce quality products, and unwavering desire to always do the right thing were integral to the company’s success and made him truly one of a kind. He built and nurtured an able and long-tenured management team. Steve’s children, Jack and Elizabeth, and Steve’s nephew David Steinbrink, are proud members of the Seaboard team.”
The company said Seaboard’s board of directors expects to name a successor to Bresky’s position as president and CEO “in the near future.”
Bresky had been head of the global food, energy and transportation company, since 2006, when he was appointed to the position to replace his father H. Harry Bresky, who had retired.
His career with the company began in 1979, when he joined Seaboard’s commodity merchandising and storage division, and was involved in the company’s flour milling and grain operations until 1986. He then transferred to Bermuda as president of Seaboard Overseas, where he had responsibility for shipping and ocean transportation, grain trading and flour and feed mill management.
In 1989, he became the company’s corporate vice president, a position he held for 12 years. In 2001, he was promoted to senior vice president and held that position for five years before being appointed president and CEO in 2006.
During his 14-year tenure as president and CEO, Bresky oversaw a period in which the company invested in several entities abroad to strengthen and expand its trading and milling businesses.
Seaboard's history and roots are deeply tied to grain, dating back over 100 years. Otto Bresky, Steven Bresky’s grandfather, purchased his first flour mill in Atchison, Kan., in 1918. Over the next 40 years he would purchase additional flour mills, mostly in Kansas, under the name Rodney Milling. The company became one of the largest flour milling companies in the United States.
In 1959, the company went public through a merger with Hathaway Industries, Inc., a publicly traded company. The name changed to Seaboard Allied Milling Corporation, and stock was traded under the symbol SEB.
The newly formed company began concentrating on milling operations closer to major metropolitan areas along the East coast and in the Southeast. Beginning in the early 1960s Seaboard built five US mills over the course of a 14-year period. The company's first investment outside the US was the joint acquisition of a flour mill in Ecuador. Seaboard later constructed mills in Sierra Leone. It eventually divested its US flour milling interests but continued to expand its overseas flour milling footprint as well as expanding into meat production and the energy sector.
In a book commemorating Seaboard’s 100th anniversary in 2018, Bresky said: “It would be impossible to name all the individuals who have made Seaboard what it is today. The list would be too long. Without our dedicated employees, loyal customers, flexible partners and supportive communities, we could never have grown from a small flour brokerage house into the Fortune 500 company that we are today. It is my great honor and privilege to preside over Seaboard’s 100th year in business.”
During the time Bresky served as the CEO, the Seaboard Corp. share price appreciated by 156%. Seaboard, which employs more than 25,000 people worldwide, reports net sales of over $5 billion annually.
Among its business interests are a commodity trading and milling and international grain processing and trading business, with primary interests in Africa, Europe, South America and the Caribbean.
It is also a leading pork producer/processor in the United States, and operates a containerized shipping service between the United States, the Caribbean, and Central and South America
Steve Bresky was also president of the Bresky Foundation, which provides funding for a broad range of worthy causes.
Bresky was born in Boston on April 2, 1953, to Suzy and Harry Bresky, joining his older sister, Patty. He received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Boston University. In 1977, he moved with his family to Kansas City.
Steve Bresky was married to Ellen Bresky for 34 years. She survives, as does his children Jack and Elizabeth Bresky, and his faithful dogs Rita and Louie.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, July 14 at 10 a.m. at Mount Moriah Funeral Home, 10507 Holmes Rd., Kansas City, Mo. Services will be live-streamed (mtmoriah.net).
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Center for Practical Bioethics, 1111 Main Street, Suite 500, Kansas City, MO 64015, or Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care, 1500 Meadow Lake Pkwy, Suite 200, Kansas City, MO 64114.