USA: Former Seagram, Tropicana Exec Named to Ocean Spray Board

By | 10 May 2000

William G. Pietersen, a professor of management at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business and a former top executive of the Seagram Beverage Group and Tropicana Products, has become the first outside member appointed to the Board of Directors of Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., a growers' cooperative.

Pietersen, 62, will serve as one of three outside directors to be appointed to the Board as part of a company restructuring approved by Ocean Spray's 930 grower-owners at their recent annual shareholders' meeting. The co-op's Board had been comprised of 25 grower-owners, with no external or management representation. In a move to speed up decision-making and bring fresh perspective to the panel, shareholders voted to shrink the board from 25 to 15, and include three outside directors and the CEO.

"We're honored and fortunate that Professor Pietersen is joining our board," said CEO Rob Hawthorne, who was hired by Ocean Spray in January to lead a company turnaround. "His experience and insight, including 20 years running consumer products and beverage companies, will be invaluable to the Board as we work to return profitability to Ocean Spray's growers."

Pietersen is the former president of Tropicana Products, Inc., and the Seagram Beverage Group. He also served in top management positions with the Unilever Group, Sterling-Winthrop, Inc., and the United Distillers Group of North America.

Pietersen is chairman of the Institute for the Future, a think tank based in Menlo Park, Calif. He also serves on the Boards of Ruder-Finn, Inc., a New York-based public relations agency, and Lykes Brothers, Inc., a Florida agribusiness.

A Rhodes Scholar, Pietersen holds a B.A. and L.L.B. in law and economics from Rhodes University, South Africa, and an M.A. in law from Oxford University.

Ocean Spray is the number-one brand of canned and bottled juice drinks in the U.S., with 1999 sales of $1.36 billion. Formed in 1930, the cooperative is made up of 804 cranberry growers from Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and other parts of Canada, as well as 126 Florida grapefruit growers.

Companies: Tropicana

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