Farmer Bros. CEO Mike Keown leaves

  • Push-out Score determined
  • After about seven years in the position
  • Praise, thanks and good wishes for Keown
  • Chris Mottern taking over in the interim
  • Search for a successor
  • Keown said 80 words

(exechange) — Northlake, Texas, May 7, 2019 — Mike Keown, chief executive of Farmer Bros., leaves — by “mutual agreement.” As announced by Farmer Bros. Co. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, Michael H. (Mike) Keown has left his post as Chief Executive Officer at the coffee roaster after about seven years in the role, effective May 5, 2019.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 7.8 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Farmer Bros. will undertake a search for a successor.

Mike Keown’s duties were taken over in the interim by Christopher P. (Chris) Mottern, a former Chief Executive Officer of Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc., as Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Already a director

Mottern is already a director of Farmer Bros. Often a board member is a last resort, someone who is turned to in desperation when a company cannot find suitable candidates. On the other hand, directors-turned-executives represent a blend of outsider and insider.

They don’t have the constraints of a pure insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions, and they have more company knowledge than a pure outsider.

Having been a director, Mottern understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of Farmer Bros.’s organization, risk-management practices and strategy.

“Now is the right time”

Mike Keown’s departure from the CEO post is explained as follows. Randy Clark, Chairman of the Board, said: “As we position Farmer Brothers for its next phase of growth and development, we have determined that now is the right time for a leadership transition.”

Precise information regarding Mike Keown’s future plans was not immediately available.

“Stepped down/left his position”

Farmer Bros. said: “Mr. Mottern succeeds Michael Keown who, by mutual agreement with the Board, has stepped down as Farmer Brothers’ President and CEO, and as a director.”

Farmer Bros. further said: “Mr. Mottern succeeds Michael H. Keown, who left his position as President and Chief Executive Officer with the Company by mutual agreement and resigned as a director, all effective May 5, 2019.”

Share price decline

The announcement follows a decline in Farmer Bros. Co.’s share price of 45 percent since April 2017.

Chaired by Randy Clark

Farmer Bros. Co. is chaired by Randy Clark.

Randy E. Clark has served as a director of the Company since 2012. Clark has served as Chairman of the Board since December 2015.

In the position of CEO since 2012

Michael H. Keown has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Farmer Brothers Co. since March 23, 2012.

Keown has served as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer since March 2012.

Prior to joining the Company, Keown served in various executive capacities at Dean Foods Company, a food and beverage company, from 2003 to March 2012.

He was at WhiteWave Foods Company, a subsidiary of Dean Foods, from 2004 to March 2012, including as President, Indulgent Brands from 2006 to March 2012.

He was also responsible for WhiteWave’s alternative channel business comprised largely of foodservice.

Keown served as President of the Dean Branded Products Group of Dean Foods from 2003 to 2004.

Keown joined Dean Foods from The Coca-Cola Company, where he served as Vice President and General Manager of the Shelf Stable Division of The Minute Maid Company.

Keown has over 25 years of experience in the Consumer Goods business, having held various positions with E.&J. Gallo Winery and The Procter & Gamble Company.

Keown has served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of World Coffee Research, a collaborative, not-for-profit 501(c)(5) research organization created by the global coffee industry, since October 2016.

In October 2018, Keown was nominated to stand for election as a director of Lancaster Colony Corporation, a manufacturer and marketer of specialty food products for the retail and foodservice channels and a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, at Lancaster Colony’s annual meeting of shareholders to be held on November 14, 2018.

Keown received his undergraduate degree in Economics from Northwestern University.

Push-out Score determined

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange gauges the pressure surrounding the management change on a scale of 0 to 10.

exechange reached out to Farmer Bros. and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 19.2019 ($).