Tillamook County Creamery Association, Tillamook, Ore., named Patrick Criteser as the Association’s new president and CEO. Criteser, who will be the 103-year-old dairy cooperative’s eighth chief executive, will officially assume the role of CEO on August 20, 2012. He succeeds Harold Strunk, who retired in June. Mark Wustenberg, the co-op's VP of Quality & Membership Services, had been serving as the acting CEO.
Criteser is a native Oregonian with a passion for and understanding of what it takes to run a manufacturing company with Northwest roots and a strong local heritage, according to the company's press release. He has spent the past eight years in the coffee industry, most recently as president and CEO at Coffee Bean International, a Portland, Ore.-based coffee roaster with a 40-year-old local heritage. While at Coffee Bean International, he grew sales more than 300%, establishing the company as one of the leading specialty coffee roasters in the U.S.
Prior to his role at Coffee Bean International, Criteser held management and strategic development roles at some of the world’s most respected brands, including Nike, Walt Disney Company and Procter & Gamble. He also spent time as a principal at SmartForest Ventures, a Portland-based venture capital fund, where he led the firm’s investments in several companies.
Criteser has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.
Tillamook ranks 45 on the Dairy 100, Dairy Foods' annual ranking of North America's largest processors of dairy foods and beverages. Tillamook reported sales of $477 million in 2011. For comparison, No. 5 Kraft had revenues of $4 billion and No. 32 Sargento rang up $1 billion.
Despite its size, Tillamook competes very well with the big boys, according to data from SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm. Although Kraft, the No. 1 brand in the natural chunk category, sells almost twice as many packages of cheese as No. 2 Tillamook, the two companies run neck and neck in dollar volume. That's because the unit price of a Tillamook cheese is almost double that of Kraft's product. In the shredded cheese segment, SymphonyIRI counts Tillamook among the Top 10, behind products from Kraft, Sargento and other national brands.
Besides cheeses, the company processes ice cream and sweet whey at the Tillamook plant. The ice cream is one of the top 15 brands in the country, according to SymphonyIRI Group. Sales are dwarfed by the likes of Unilever's Breyers, Nestlé's Dreyer's/Edy's slow-churned SKUs and independent Blue Bell Creameries. But the Oregon company holds its own against Mayfield (a unit of Dean Foods Co.), Talenti and other SKUs from Dreyer's/Edy's. Tillamook's dollar sales and unit sales increased more than the category average in the 52-week period ending June 10, 2012, according to SymphonyIRI.