PHOENIX, Ariz. – Timothy Day, who has served as CEO of Bar-S Foods for 31 years, wrote his final Chairman’s Message to company employees in the recently published Winter 2013 issue of Bar-S’s company newsletter, The Winning Way. Day stepped down as CEO on Jan. 1 and is now the non-executive chairman of Bar-S Foods—A Sigma Co. Longtime Bar-S veteran Warren Panico was promoted to president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2013.

Bar-S Foods became a part of the Sigma/Alfa organization in 2010 and has since effectively integrated into “a very powerful enterprise,” Day said. Day reflected on past challenges and successes.

“We started operations on Aug. 28, 1981, with great hope and optimism,” Day wrote, “but little real comprehension of the challenges we were about to encounter. The first several years were a struggle for survival as we worked night and day to get the business up and running – convincing customers to buy our products, getting the plants functioning and able to produce and making delivery of orders. Sounds very basic nu nothing is basic in a start-in a start-up venture with untrained, new employees.

The fledgling company had to deal with numerous legal issues, ward off competitive predators and generate enough cash to meet payroll, among other challenges. “At times, the situation looked very bleak, but we refused to give up and ultimately persevered over every adversity,” Day wrote.

Over time, Bar-S Foods became strong enough to implement its long-term plans, which led to the dramatic transformation of its supply-chain capabilities with the modernization and centralization of all production and distribution facilities in Oklahoma. And then the company started expanding its market penetration from regional to national.

Bar-S Foods ultimately became a dominant brand serving the value segment of the market throughout the US. This was made possible thanks to fulfilling the company’s strategy for success:

• The company’s vision was to become the recognized premier company and clear value leader in the processed food industry.
• Its efforts were focused on continuously improving all aspects of the company’s business to further increase the value provided to the marketplace – by elevating the quality of its products and services while lowering their costs.
• The company’s foundation was built on the philosophy of relentlessly pursuing excellence – particularly excelling in the basics of teamwork, customer relationships, brand loyalty, high quality, superior service and low cost.

In 2012, the integration between the two companies was completed and many of Bar-S’s objectives were achieved. For Day, the transition is an emotional moment.

“Of course, I am somewhat saddened to leave a position that has provided me with an enormous sense of fulfillment, numerous close friendships, great personal satisfaction, significant financial rewards and priceless memories – but I have carried the responsibility for the health of the company and welfare of our employees far longer than most business leaders, and it is time for new blood and fresh ideas,” Day wrote.

Bar-S, which calls itself the only national value brand in the US, now offers more than 120 processed meat products including pre-packaged franks, bacon, lunchmeat and sausage, and frozen corn dogs. Sigma, originally a leading producer of processed meats, began diversifying into other markets, including yogurt, cheese and ready-to-serve meals, in 1994. Its markets include Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Peru—and now the US.

At the time of the acquisition, Armando Garza Sada, chairman of the board for Alfa, said this acquisition would help Sigma to become a meaningful player in the US refrigerated processed meats market by targeting the US Hispanic market.

(For an update on the progress made since the merger and for an exclusive look inside the Bar-S Seminole, Okla., processing plant, read the cover feature in the soon-to-be-published April issue of Meat&Poultry magazine.)