Ettinger ranked in best-performing list; Outgoing Hormel CEO No. 84 on Harvard Business Review’s best- performing CEO countdown

Published 10:50 am Friday, October 21, 2016



Hormel Foods Corp. CEO Jeffrey Ettinger is going out on top.

About a week before Ettinger retires as CEO on Oct. 30, he was ranked No. 84 on the Harvard Business Review’s best-performing CEOs in the world list.

He joined fellow Minnesota CEOs Doug Baker Jr. of St. Paul’s Ecolab, No. 41, and Ken Powell of Golden Valley’s General Mills, No. 71, on the annual listing.

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Ettinger has been with Hormel since 1989 and became Hormel’s chairman of the board, president and CEO in 2006. James Snee, who will take over as CEO Oct. 31, became company president last October. Ettinger will continue to serve as Hormel Foods chairman of the board.

In July leading up to Hormel’s 125th anniversary, Ettinger noted how it had been an exciting era to watch the company’s growth, going from about $2.8 billion in sales in 1991 to about $5 billion in shares a decade ago when Ettinger became CEO to about $9.3 billion last year.

And as the company celebrated its growth and new acquisitions over 125 years, Ettinger said that many Hormel Foods mainstays — such as: Spam, Hormel Pepperoni or Cure 81 Hams — are still showing growth.

Under Ettinger’s leadership, Hormel Foods has grown through acquisitions, organic growth and a continued focus on new product innovation.

In May 2016, Hormel Foods acquired Justin’s LLC, a maker of nut butter spreads and products, for $286 million.

The Justin’s purchase came after the company had made several large acquisitions in recent years, including: Applegate Farms for $775 million, Wholly Guacamole for about $140 million, CytoSports Holdings for $450 million, and Skippy for $700 million. Those represent four of the largest five acquisitions in the company’s history.

In 2016, Ettinger was named as one of the 30 World’s Best CEOs by Barron’s, and he was named Executive of the Year by the 2016 Best in Biz Awards International.

In 2012, he was named Responsible CEO of the Year by Corporate Responsibility magazine. In addition, Ettinger is the founding chair of the company’s diversity and inclusion council, which aims to meet the growing needs of its diverse workforce and consumer base.

After reporting record earnings of $195.7 million for the third quarter, Hormel was looking ahead to a strong 2017.

“Our early look into fiscal 2017 shows us once again growing sales and earnings,” Snee said last month.

The Harvard Business Review’s list, which has been released since 2010, aims to measure CEOs’ effectiveness over a long term rather than by short-term results and public opinion.