Meat + Poultry - March 2016 - (Page 8)

C O M M E N TA R Y A graceful exit Interviewing some true industry icons just before or soon after they have joined the growing ranks of retirees the past several years has been a lesson in enlightenment and is always inspiring. Barely two months into his retirement in early February, C. Larry Pope took time to visit with me about his career path leading up to his stepping down as Smithfield Foods' president and CEO (See "Accomplished," Page 18). I was familiar with the corporate face of Pope, after years of covering Smithfield during many ups and downs and including its acquistion by China's WH Group. But there's something about earning the proverbial gold watch that behooves some powerful and influential people to let their guard down and show their not-so-corporate human side. Like a Super Bowl MVP, one of the first things Pope did was go to Disney World with his daughter and three grandchildren to celebrate his victorious career. "Don't work He and his family joked that the hard, think fireworks show they saw at the hard. Thinking Magic Kingdom was dedicated to his retirement after 35 years at hard makes you a lot more Smithfield. Starting at the company as money." a bean counter, Pope says he planned to work at the company for a maximum of three years. He never envisioned sticking with the company and retiring as its leader more than three decades after his self-imposed deadline. He spoke happily about the highs as he ascended the corporate ladder, riding the wave during the company's heyday and its many acquisitions. His voice and cadence turned somber when he remembered the business taking a dive in 2008, when he pulled in the financial oars not 8 MEAT+ POULTRY | 03.16 | www.meatpoultry.com only at Smithfield, but also at home. The philosophy he preached during that period was, "You must be present to win," as he made a point of being visible and sacrificing alongside all of the company's employees. He wasn't shy about referring to the ensuing two-plus years as the darkest period in his career when worries were exceeded only by sleepless nights. He shared too some of his learning experiences, having survived those hard times and restructuring the company as the industry continued evolving. In the last five years of his tenure, Pope made it a point to go out and see both customers and visit employees in the plants. "It helped me know the business better," he said, and people respected him and appreciated his attention. He shared other lessons and secrets to his success. One, which he didn't fully embrace until about four years ago, was to dedicate time to a singular purpose: to think. It's a seemingly simple concept but one too many people overlook. "Take one day a week and use that time to think... hard," said Pope, whose thinking day was every Friday. He recited the sage advice of his uncle, who like Pope's father owned a successful Ford dealership: "Don't work hard, think hard. Thinking hard makes you a lot more money than working hard." Pope remembers the last day in the office at Smithfield and said, to make his departure a little easier, his secretary ensured nothing in the executive's office was moved or changed until he walked out the door for the final time. Since his trip to Disney, Pope and his wife of 40 years look forward to traveling, spending time with his two kids and their three grandchildren. He also hinted that he's thinking more about golf as he was talking about how happy he is that his daughter and grandkids live near his home. "She lives a good, solid 3-wood from my house." J O E L C R E WS, E D I TO R | j c r e w s @ s o s l a n d.c o m http://www.meatpoultry.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat + Poultry - March 2016

Meat + Poultry - March 2016
CONTENTS
COMMENTARY - A graceful exit
BUSINESS NOTES - SYSCO APPLIES BRAKES
BACHOCO FINALIZES DEAL FOR US PLANT
APPLEGATE ACQUISITION RAISES OPTIMISM AT HORMEL
PILGRIM’S ANNOUNCES $190M EXPANSION PLAN
JBS ANNOUNCES REORGANIZATION
SMITHFIELD PARTNERS FOR CONSERVATION
WASHINGTON - Prioritizing safer poultry
COVER STORY - ACCOMPLISHED
PEDAL TO THE METAL
TOP 100 - CHART TOPPERS
FOOD SAFETY - The results are in
PACKAGING SOLUTIONS - Product improvement
IN-PLANT UPDATE - A LASTING IMPRESSION
INGREDIENT ISSUES - Cleaning up Deli Labels
INDUSTRY LEADER - INNOVATIVE ICON
SMALL BUSINESS MATTERS - 'THE STOLTZHUS WAY'
SHOW PREVIEW - GLOBAL INNOVATION
SANITATION TIPS
CONSEJOS DE SANIDAD
FROM THE CORRAL - GROUP HOUSING SOLUTIONS
SHOWCASE
NAMES IN THE NEWS
CLASSIFIEDS
ADVERTISERS
THE INSIDER

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