Danny Kennedy’s retirement as president and CEO of Riceland Foods was announced July 9, but Riceland spokesman Kevin McGilton told Arkansas Money & Politics that Kennedy informed the cooperative’s board of his intention to retire in May.
Andrew Dallas, Riceland vice president, was immediately named interim CEO. McGilton clarified that Kennedy’s retirement had been planned.
“He felt like it was time. He was confident in the team’s ability to run the company. I would not characterize his retirement announcement as anything sudden. It’s been a several year process of him getting team members in place before he announced to the board in May.”
McGilton said the farmer-owned cooperative, which turns 100 later this year, remains strong financially and is proceeding with business as usual, preparing for harvest. The timing of the announcement may have thrown people off, he noted.
“The reason for the interim CEO being named immediately is because our fiscal year begins August 1. Danny is still playing the advisor role until his full retirement at the end of the month.”
Kennedy had served as CEO since 2007. He joined Riceland as chief operating officer in 2000. Board chair Roger Pohler said a national search for a permanent replacement is underway and would include consideration of internal candidates.
“I would like to thank Danny for his service to Riceland and his many years of leading the management team to achieve better service and higher returns for our membership,” Pohlner said in a press release. “I am very confident in the current leadership team and staff we have in place at Riceland Foods.”
Dallas is a McCrory native who has served as Riceland’s vice president and general counsel since 2013. Prior to joining Riceland, he practiced law in Jonesboro. Dallas received his bachelor’s of science from Lyon College in Batesville and his juris doctor from the University of Arkansas.
“I look forward to leading our team and working with the board during this transition period,” Dallas said in a statement. “Growing up in farm country I have seen the hard work and dedication our farmers put in every day. It is my honor to step into this leadership role and work for the membership of Riceland Foods.”
McGilton said Dallas was the logical choice to serve as interim CEO.
“Andrew has been here since 2013, and is a lawyer by trade. In that role, as you can imagine, the legal aspects touch on every part of our business, so he’s had time to become familiar with each department. He’s been close to human resources, operations, and he’s got a good in depth knowledge of all aspects of the business.”
Based in Stuttgart, Riceland is one of the world’s largest producers of rice, consisting of more than 5,500 family farm members who serve as stockholders and growers.