Setting the stage for success
By utilizing Curtis Food Recruiters in their executive search, Organic Valley had a new EVP of Supply Chain on board in just 3 months.
Who They Are
Based in La Farge, WI, Organic Valley, at over $1b in sales, is the nation’s largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative and one of the world’s largest consumer brands. This 30-year-old farmer-owned company is a leader in the organic dairy space. They are committed to organic agriculture and supporting the family farm. Their sustainability mission is seen not only in the strategy of the company, but also in the unique culture that puts employees first.
Their primary business is in organic dairy (milk, cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter) as well as meat and produce. They market their products under their own company brands, Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, selling to retailers and food service.
The Executive Vice President of Supply Chain was a critical new leadership role that would report to the CEO. This new role would provide strategic vision and direction to Distribution, Transportation, Production, Quality and Manufacturing Departments. This direction needed to be in-line with the company mission. Organic Valley needed the person in this role to have the capability and desire to focus a team, department and organization on the most impactful things they could accomplish now and into the future.
The main challenges that were specific to filling the EVP Supply Chain role centered around requirements for the right cultural / personality profile, an extremely competitive job market at the time of the search and the rural location of Organic Valley, which created a challenge from a relocation standpoint. In addition, they required a leader with extensive experience in perishable and/or dairy. The company itself faces many challenges in this unique environment that needed to be taken into consideration during the search, including the recent retiring of the founder and CEO, navigating the complex multi-site supply chain, increasing transportation costs and competitive and market pressures within the dairy industry.
With a small HR team, the company decided that they didn’t have the bandwidth to conduct a search at this level and needed to engage the services of an executive recruiter. Having worked with Curtis Food Recruiters on a variety of searches in the past, a strong relationship had been established. Based on our food industry expertise, engagement with their leadership team, and our executive presence, they chose us to be their search partner in this critical hire.
We worked closely with the Interim-CEO as well as the HR recruiting leader to find a supply chain executive with strategic experience in distribution, transportation, production and manufacturing within a perishable environment. This person would be tasked with building a new strategy around production and transportation in a multi-site and co-manufacturing organization. They would need to be a compassionate leader, someone equally adept at building the strategy and executing, and have the creativity to dramatically reduce costs and be able to find new and better ways of supporting the supply chain.
Together with the client, we identified the following as the top cultural and skills requirements for the role:
- A leader with extensive experience in organizations with global supply chains.
- Demonstrated ability to dramatically decrease transportation costs.
- Contract manufacturing expertise.
- Strong change management skills.
- A leader who can give clear direction and inspire their team, while also holding people accountable.
- Ability to focus a team, department and organization on the most impactful things that can be accomplished now and in the future.
- Strong belief in the organic food movement.
Early on, we engaged our network to develop a benchmark candidate. This person not only had the technical skills necessary, but also the personal leadership attributes the company was looking for to truly become an engaged leader in their corporate culture. Once the benchmark was established, we presented several other leaders with similar attributes. The final candidates engaged in phone, VTC and ultimately in-person interviews with the executive team. The final candidates were narrowed to two and from those, Organic Valley hired its first EVP of Supply Chain.
The person chosen for the role had a combination of supply chain, operations and contract manufacturing leadership experience within global dairy, beverage and CPG companies. He is warm, engaging and enthusiastic about the mission of the company. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive from the interview team and he received an offer almost immediately.
Making a difference
The company culture at Organic Valley is unique and is the foundation on which the entire company was built. Being a farmer-owned company, their dedication is to the continued support of organic farms and bringing high quality organic products to
consumers, while focusing on sustainability and global stewardship is their core mission.
Ty Brannen – EVP Supply Chain – Organic Valley.
Ty brings to Organic Valley more than 30 years of food and CPG supply chain expertise, previously working for organizations such as Pepsi, Nestle Waters and Clorox. He entered the dairy industry in 2017 and thrived when tasked with the complete overhaul of his previous employer’s U.S. operations and supply chain. He is highly approachable and has driven significant change throughout his career, which is exactly what Organic Valley was looking for. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech.