SPRINGDALE, ARK. — John Tyson, chairman of the board of Tyson Foods, Inc. announced on Nov. 19 that Donnie Smith, currently senior group vice-president of Poultry and Prepared Foods, will be the company’s president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. Additionally, Jim Lochner, currently senior group vice-president of Fresh Meats, has been named the company’s chief operating officer.
"The Tyson Board and the Tyson family congratulate Donnie Smith and Jim Lochner and wish them the best for the future success of our company," Tyson said. "We appreciate Leland Tollett stepping into the c.e.o. role earlier in the year and working so hard to help turn the company around. Significant progress has been made. I have worked with both Donnie and Jim for a number of years and am convinced that they are the right leadership team for this next phase in the evolution of our company. Their extensive experience inside the company has fully prepared them to continue the progress we have made in the last year."
Mr. Tollett has been interim president and c.e.o. of the company since January. He will assist Smith and Lochner in the transition, and he will be available for strategic advice and support.
Mr. Smith joined Tyson Foods in 1980 after graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Animal Science. He moved to the corporate headquarters in Springdale to join the Tyson commodities purchasing group after seven years of working in various live poultry production jobs. During his tenure with the company, he has had various leadership roles including Purchasing; Environmental, Health and Safety; Food Safety and Quality Assurance; Manufacturing Services; Information Systems; and Logistics, before becoming senior group vice president of Poultry and Prepared Foods.
"I started with Tyson Foods 29 years ago, and I’ve been very fortunate to serve in several roles for this great company," Mr. Smith said. "At every turn, I learned a different aspect of what we do, but the most important thing I’ve learned is that we have an amazing team of individuals that are dedicated to producing results. I am honored that I will now serve these team members as the leader of our company, and I am certain that 2010 and the years to come are going to be great for our shareholders, our customers, and other stakeholders.
"Yes, we, like everyone else, have seen some struggles in these economic times, but I am certain that through the leadership of our team, the efforts of all our team members with our customers, and the focus on operational excellence, we will succeed," he added
Mr. Lochner joined IBP, Inc., which was later purchased by Tyson, in 1983 as director of research. Before that, he was a quality control food technologist at Oscar Mayer Foods and a laboratory technician at the University of Wisconsin. Mr. Lochner held several different officer positions in various quality control and technical services areas at IBP. He became executive vice-president of IBP in 1997, and in 2000, he was promoted to president and c.e.o of IBP.
After Tyson Foods acquired IBP in 2001, he was named group vice-president of Tyson Fresh Meats. Later, he was named Tyson Foods’ senior group vice-president of Margin Optimization in 2005 before becoming senior group vice-president of Fresh Meats in 2007. Mr. Lochner earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in meat and animal science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.