The American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) announced that Dave Thomas is the 2020 recipient of the ADPI Award of Merit. The Award of Merit was established in 1991 to recognize individuals who have made a significant difference in the processed dairy products industry.

Thomas had a career in dairy that spanned 41 years, including operations management roles at Western General Dairies and Gossner Foods and 15 years as president and CEO of Glanbia Foods. He was instrumental in the growth of Glanbia Foods, Elmhurst, Ill.-based ADPI said, as he spearheaded several investment and expansion phases, leading the company to become one of the largest producers of American-style cheese and nutritional products derived from whey in the country.

During the course of his career, Thomas also played a key role in helping to oversee one of the largest cheddar cheese plants in the world, with the construction of the Southwest Cheese Co. facility in Clovis, N.M. 

Thomas is also past president and board member of the Idaho Milk Processors Association (IMPA) and a former board member of ADPI and the International Dairy Foods Association. He was inducted into the IMPA Hall of Fame in 2016, ADPI noted.

Thomas finished his dairy career as CEO of ADPI, during which time the association experienced strong growth and significant progress in advancing strategic goals under his leadership, ADPI said. He and his wife Sandy reside in Twin Falls, Idaho, where they enjoy trying to keep up with their nine married children and 33 grandchildren.