As Fred Halvin announced his retirement and began winding down a prolific 37-year career with Hormel Foods, company leaders conspired to give the vice president of corporate development yet another project. Well known as the architect of a long, illustrious line of acquisitions, including the largest in Hormel Foods history – the Planters® snack nuts business, Fred had yet to receive the Pride of the Jersey.
That changed March 16, when Hormel Foods CEO Jim Snee bestowed on him the honor reserved for those who exemplify the company’s Cultural Beliefs in extraordinary ways.
“Fred has been a key leader for all of our transformational acquisitions over the past decade and has been instrumental in the Hormel Foods journey to become the global branded food company that we are today,” Jim said when announcing Fred’s retirement.
He was surprised by the unexpected and “very much appreciated” award. “I was so pleased to be recognized that way,” Fred says.
The Pride of the Jersey caps a long and successful career that began with an internship at the company’s former facility in Fremont, Neb. Fred jumped at the chance to join Hormel Foods upon graduating from Midland Lutheran College with a degree in accounting, not knowing he’d spend his entire career with the organization. However, a steady stream of opportunities and a company that stayed true to its values through changes and growth made Fred realize he had landed somewhere special.
“It really feels like the same company I started to work with 37 years ago,” he says.
Fred has been a key leader for all of our transformational acquisitions over the past decade and has been instrumental in the Hormel Foods journey to become the global branded food company that we are todayJim Snee, Hormel Foods CEO
Fred was born in Red Oak, Iowa, and grew up on a family farm, something he calls “one of the best experiences” of his life. “I wish everyone had an opportunity to do that,” he adds.
His first full-time position with Hormel Foods was that of cost accounting manager at one of the Hormel Foods subsidiaries. In 1990, he moved to the company’s world headquarters in Austin, Minn., and advanced through roles as a corporate cost analyst, manager of the tax department, assistant controller and treasurer. Some 20 years ago, Fred accepted responsibility for investor relations, and in 2007, he began focusing on mergers, acquisitions and strategy. His most recent job title came in 2012.
He’s been at the helm of 19 transactions – 15 on the buy side and four on the sell side. Each one has a story, Fred says, and each one evokes strong memories.
He laughs at the suggestion that he is akin to a parent with many children, all of whom are loved equally. There is truth to the analogy, he says. And yet, chat with Fred long enough and he will likely mention the largest and latest acquisition in Hormel Foods history: the Planters® and Corn Nuts® brands. The well-known $1 billion business came into the Hormel Foods family June 7, 2021, a mere year and days after the initial phone call happened.
Exactly 365 days later, on June 6, 2022, Fred will retire from his full-time duties to enjoy life with his spouse, Tracy, and their children and grandchildren. Instead of sitting behind a desk and boarding planes for business meetings, there will be long days on Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka in the summer months and Bonita Springs, Fla., in the winter. He’ll still be strategizing, but the focus will be on golf, boating, jet skiing and biking instead of companies and brands to enrich Hormel Foods. A master of mergers, he’s looking forward to bringing family and friends together more often.
Rest assured, Fred won’t vanish from Hormel Foods overnight. He will continue to lend his expertise to a number of projects through the end of 2022. And that’s just fine with him. After all, leaving is not easy.
“I’ll miss the people I work with every day,” he says. “I couldn’t have chosen a better company to work for over the years.”