SpartanNash Co. announced Sept. 14 that it has hired former Borden Dairy CEO Tony Sarsam as its new president and CEO, effective Sept. 21.
Sarsam, who will also join the SpartanNash board of directors, will succeed Dennis Eidson as CEO. Eidson had been interim CEO of the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based distributor/retailer since last summer. Eidson will continue in his role as chairman and serve in an executive chairman role for 30 days to ensure a smooth transition, SpartanNash said.
Sarsam has what SpartanNash called “a unique blend of consumer products and supply chain expertise in the food industry, which positions him especially well in assuming his new role.” He joins the company while it is riding high momentum associated with a grocery demand shift due to the coronavirus crisis.
Most recently, Sarsam was CEO of Borden Dairy Co., where he led business growth and positive trends in a challenging industry. He successfully led Borden through its recent Chapter 11 restructuring and restored the business to a new foundation for future growth before departing in July.
Prior to Borden, Sarsam served for nearly five years as CEO of Ready Pac Foods Inc., where his focus on innovation and service transformed the produce processor into a growth engine, delivering a 60% revenue increase. Earlier in his career, Sarsam spent more than 20 years in progressive leadership roles at PepsiCo before joining Nestle, where he served for three years as president of Nestle’s direct-store delivery company, a $4.5 billion pizza and ice cream business.
Sarsam holds a master’s degree in management from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Arizona State University.
“SpartanNash’s board of directors has conducted an extensive search over the past year, and we are extremely confident we have recruited an exceptional leader to continue the legacy of our company as a trusted provider of grocery products,” said Eidson. “Not only does Tony possess the background and expertise to lead SpartanNash in the coming years, his core values and history of visionary thinking and strategic execution are in direct alignment to achieve our vision to be a best-in-class business that feels local, where relationships matter.”
“I am honored and humbled to be selected to lead this incredible organization,” said Sarsam. “I think of SpartanNash as over 100 years young, with a rich history and a promising future. I am looking forward to working with our 19,000 dedicated associates to further strengthen our company and extend our success well into the future.”
Eidson, who had retired as CEO when Dave Staples succeeded him in 2017, reassumed the role when Staples was fired last year in the wake of a long challenge standing up the acquired, but since exited, Fresh Kitchen business. Under Eidson, the company’s long-struggling retail business turned positive comps for the first time last fall.
SpartanNash distributes grocery products to a diverse group of independent and chain retailers, its corporate-owned retail stores and U.S. military commissaries and exchanges, as well as operating a premier fresh produce distribution network. SpartanNash currently operates 155 supermarkets, primarily under the banners of Family Fare, Martin’s Super Markets, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery and Dan’s Supermarket. Through its MDV military division, SpartanNash is a leading distributor of grocery products to U.S. military commissaries.