After steering one of the region’s largest private companies onto the public market, Utz Brands CEO Dylan Lissette is stepping into a new role.
- After 27 years with the Hanover-based snack maker, Lissette will become executive chairman of the company’s board on Dec.15.
- Utz’s new CEO will be Howard Friedman, currently COO of St. Louis-based Post Holdings, a consumer-packaged goods company whose brands include Bob Evans, Peter Pan and Ronzoni.
- Friedman also will join the company’s board.
- “Howard brings extensive experience increasing market share and unlocking growth potential, with a focus on building innovative brands and strategic business development,” Lissette said in a statement. “The board and I are confident that he will help lead Utz to tremendous success as we grow our presence across geographies, salty snack sub-categories, and channels.”
Are there any firsts: Yes.
- Friedman will be the first CEO from outside the families that have led Utz since its founding by William and Salie Utz in 1921, according to Utz spokesperson Kevin Brick.
- Lissette is a son-in-law of past CEO Mike Rice, whose father, Francis, married Arlene Utz, a daughter of William and Salie.
- Francis led the company after the death of William Utz in 1968. Mike Rice became CEO in 1978.
Why is this happening: In a press release, Utz said a leadership transition has been on the agenda since the company went public through a 2020 merger with Collier Creek Holdings, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. SPACs look for privately held businesses to take public.
- Utz evaluated internal and external candidates before settling on Friedman, who has more than 25 years of experience in the food and beverage sector,
- “I see enormous potential to continue Utz’s exciting journey,” Friedman said in a statement. “I am confident that, with such a values-driven, passionate organization, and a portfolio of iconic snacks beloved by families across the U.S., Utz is just getting started.”
- Utz’s current board chair, Roger Deromedi, will become the company’s lead independent director.
- By first quarter 2023, Lissette will shift into the role of non-executive board chairman.
The background: Lissette joined Utz in 1995 and became CEO in 2013, several years after the company backed out of a proposed merger wth hometown rival Snyder’s of Hanover.
- He led Utz through a period of significant growth, fueled, in part, by acquiring smaller snack makers.
- Utz now has more than $1.3 billion in annual sales and a national presence as the third-largest salty snack platform in the U.S. It employs more than 3,500 people.
- Snyder’s is now part of the snack division at New Jersey-based Campbell Soup.