SMITHFIELD, VA. – Smithfield Foods Inc. announced on Oct. 19 that Dennis Organ, chief operating officer of US operations, will succeed Kenneth Sullivan as president and chief executive upon his retirement in early 2021.
Organ has worked in his current role since 2019, after the launch of the company’s “One Smithfield” campaign and leadership realignment. He joined Smithfield in 2010 and previously held the position of senior vice president of supply chain & direct store delivery with the company. In the newly created position of COO, Organ was responsible for leading Smithfield’s 40,000 employees in 32 states, overseeing day-to-day operations of the company's business in the United States.
Organ expressed his appreciation to the officials of Smithfield’s publicly traded parent company, based in China, and to Sullivan for his years of leadership.
“I am incredibly thankful and excited to have the opportunity to lead and serve Smithfield,” he said. “I want to personally thank WH Group for their trust and confidence in me. We are tremendously fortunate to have had Ken at the helm of our company for the last five years, and particularly this past year. Thanks to Ken and his leadership, and the actions of our Smithfield family, our ROI guiding principles now underpins everything we do and are our keys to success. Building on our ROI foundation together is our path forward.”
Sullivan, whose career at Smithfield began in 2003, assumed the role of president and CEO in 2016, succeeding C. Larry Pope, who retired at the end of 2015. Prior to that, he was promoted to the position of COO in 2015 and previously worked in numerous other roles, including chief financial officer from 2013 to 2015; vice president of finance from 2010 to 2013; and chief accounting officer from 2007 to 2013.
According to the company, during his five years as president and CEO, Sullivan delivered record results and led Smithfield through a monumental transformation. His fifth year came in 2020.
“Then, the pandemic hit,” said the company. “Mr. Sullivan did not hesitate to put the company's pursuit of profits on the back burner, throwing over $600 million year to date to implement a wide range of extraordinary benefits designed to keep team members as healthy and safe as possible, assist them through the pandemic and reward them for their willingness to accept the enormous responsibility of maintaining the nation's food supply.”
Sullivan said, “It has been a great honor and privilege to lead Smithfield for the past five years. As a leading global food and agriculture company, we have an incredibly important role to play in society. It is an obligation we have proudly embraced over our more than 80-year history. We have persevered through an extraordinary time in 2020. Together, we have met unprecedented challenges head-on.”
Sullivan also expressed his appreciation to the company’s 55,000 employees across the globe.
“Our company and each of you have been my family for the last nearly two decades. I have spent that time working with a spectacularly talented, dedicated and committed team,” he said. “The strength, resolve and guts I have witnessed in our Smithfield family during those twenty years, and particularly this year, will stay with me forever, as will the losses we have endured. Your heroism kept this country fed. Never forget that.
“Building on the successes of the last five years, it is the right time for me to make way for the next generation of leadership. I am leaving our company in extremely capable hands. Dennis lives and breathes our Operational Excellence guiding principle. At his core, he tirelessly seeks out opportunities to improve the way we do business,” Sullivan said.
Wan Long, executive director, chairman and CEO of WH Group said, “Ken has provided outstanding leadership to Smithfield over the last five years. We are extremely grateful for his many contributions to WH Group throughout his tenure and wish him well in his retirement. Looking forward, Dennis’ experience as chief operating officer will prove invaluable as he leads Smithfield forward.”