The corporate reorganization of Cargill's Wichita-based protein division is nearing completion with the naming of a leader for its food service channel, ending a restructuring project that began 18 months ago.
"We wanted to become much more customer-focused," says Brain Sikes, vice president of Cargill's North American protein business. "Being able to do that across seven businesses in a consistent way was a challenge because we had to pull together insight, innovation and marketing and come up with the best way to enhance our service to existing customers while seeking new customers."
What the company came up with was an organization that moves away from product-based divisions — beef, pork, poultry, eggs, etc. — and toward "channel-based" divisions — food service, retail, protein ingredients and growth ventures.
Sikes says the new organizational plan allows one marketing person to call on a customer as a representative of all Cargill proteins, rather than have salesmen from separate proteins make individual calls.
"This puts us in a position to offer our customers a better and more consistent experience," Sikes says. "At the same time, it allows us to re-allocate marketing resources to get the best results. That's what enabled the creation of a growth ventures channel that focuses on identifying any market segment that is protein-centered but that Cargill is not now serving and is able to spend time looking at emerging markets for potential opportunities to grow."
On May 10, Cargill announced that Jon Nash has been named president of Cargill Protein's food service channel, effective June 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Nash's team will focus on providing food service customers with strong insights in the industry and advice on how to innovate and build sustainable supply chains. For more than a year, Nash has been leading the Cargill Protein strategy and structure transformation.
“Throughout his career at Cargill, Jon has imparted his expertise and knowledge to our organization while also displaying the attributes of a top-tier leader,” Sikes says. “Through his thoughtful and determined leadership approach and drive for success, Jon exemplifies qualities we value as an organization.”
Nash has been with Cargill since October of 1998, when he joined the company's Schuyler, Neb., beef processing facility and gained experience in various accounting and finance roles, in addition to leading multiple business integration and acquisition efforts. In 2005, Nash moved to Cargill’s Fresno, Calif., beef processing facility as the controller and was ultimately promoted to the complex’s general manager in June 2013. In 2015, he was named operations lead for Cargill Value Added Protein, and led the operations, engineering, and environmental, health and safety teams.
Previously announced leaders for the channel-based organization include:
• Tom Windish, retail channel president, formerly responsible for the Cargill food distribution business
• John Niemann, protein ingredients and international channel president, formerly responsible for the Cargill turkey and cooked meats business
• Sonya Roberts, growth ventures and strategic pricing president, formerly responsible for Cargill’s egg business
• John Keating, business operations and supply chain (BOSC) president, formerly responsible for the Cargill beef business
• Chuck Gitkin, chief marketing officer, who recently joined Cargill from another protein company
One of the early decisions that Cargill Protein had to make when deciding on the reorganization was whether to keep the headquarters in Wichita or move to another location.
The company had been located on Main Street in a 10-story building for decades. It felt a new, more modern office building needed to be part of the process.
The company looked into several alternate locations and eventually decided to stay in Wichita.
"When we decided to stay in Wichita, we knew we needed to be as attractive as possible as an employer," Sikes says. "We needed a modern workspace in the right part of town. We looked at three or four options that would have worked and finally decided to build a new building on the previous Wichita Eagle site at 825 E. Douglas."
The new space will include a parking garage — partially financed by the city of Wichita — that will serve afterhours as parking spaces for the Intrust Bank Arena only two blocks away.
Sikes says he is excited about the new location, which moves the company from downtown Wichita to the heart of the Old Town district.
"It sits right in the heart of the district, close to restaurants, shopping and entertainment," Sikes says. "I feel we are adding to the downtown of Wichita and helping drive commerce."
Sale of feedyards part of reorganization
Cargill has agreed to sell its beef cattle feedyards at Leoti and Yuma, Colo., to Omaha-based Green Plains Inc., a vertically integrated ethanol producer that already owns feedyards at Kismet and Hereford, Texas.
Cargill will continue to buy cattle from Green Plains through a new multiyear agreement. About 90 people are currently employed at the Colorado and Kansas feedyards and all of them will be offered jobs with Green Plains. The combined capacity of the two feedyards is about 155,000 cattle at any given point in time.
“Selling our two remaining feedyards aligns with our protein growth focus by allowing us to redeploy working capital away from cattle feeding operations to other investments,” says John Keating, president of Cargill’s Wichita-based protein business operations and supply chain. “By partnering with Green Plains in a multiyear supply agreement, the Yuma and Leoti yards will continue to supply cattle to our beef processing facilities at Fort Morgan, Colo., and Dodge City, Kan., ensuring consistent, high-quality beef products for our customers.”
Over the past two years, Cargill has announced approximately $560 million in acquisitions and capital investments to grow its North American protein business.
Cargill businesses in Kansas employ more than 4,000 people
Cargill has 4,111 employees across Kansas, with the vast majority employed in Wichita, where the headquarters of its protein division and a soybean crushing plant are located; in Dodge City, where it has a beef packing plant; and in its salt mining operations in Hutchinson.
When it comes to corporate civic citizens, Cargill has contributed almost $4.4 million to Kansas nonprofit partners in the past two years alone.
Cargill has given $1 million to the Kansas State University Project Impact, which works to recruit, retain, graduate and place students of historically underrepresented populations.
Cargill contributed $225,000 to create the Maur Hill-Mount Academy Wangari Educational Greenhouse to honor the memory of Nobel Peace Prize Laureante Wangari Muta Maathai Wangari, a school alumnus. Academy biology students prided themselves on the garden concept and created a raised-bed vegetable garden to supplement school lunches.