Courtesy of NORPAC
Shawn Campbell, a veteran of the food processing industry, is the new president and CEO of NORPAC, the venerable Willamette Valley farmers’ cooperative.
Campbell replaces George Smith, who retired after heading the co-op for more than a decade and working at the company 38 years.
Campbell was hired as NORPAC’s chief operating officer in 2016 as part of a strategic succession plan, and he’s not new to the workings of farmers’ cooperatives. He worked more than 10 years at Darigold, the dairy products co-op, where he was most recently the senior vice president of consumer products.
He also has food brokerage and business development experience in the U.S. and Canada.
Campbell said he’d been looking for an opportunity to lead an organization when the NORPAC position came open. The co-op has a solid foundation, he said, with quality products, reliable sourcing and a hardworking employee base. The co-op model gives independent businesses — farms, in this case — more economic power than they would have by themselves, provides a reliable market for their crops and gives them an opportunity for governance, he said. Co-op members sit on NORPAC’s board of directors.
Campbell agreed consumers are familiar with NORPAC’s FLAV-R-PAC brand frozen vegetables and fruit and its Santiam brand canned products, but said people may be buying NORPAC products without realizing it. The co-op packages under private labels, and its vegetables, soups and chili are used by restaurants, he said.
Campbell said most of his background is in sales and marketing and he’ll be looking for innovative growth, including new products. He declined to be more specific. “There’s definitely opportunity out there,” he said.
Campbell is originally from Vancouver, B.C. He began his career there, and worked in Tampa, Fla., and in Seattle before taking the NORPAC position.
“I work hard and I enjoy my work,” he said. “I think people will see that.”
NORPAC was established as Stayton Canning Co. in 1924 and now operates processing and packaging facilities in Stayton, Salem, Brooks and Hermiston, Ore., and in Quincy, Wash.
The co-op was among the first processors to use quick-freezing units to produce what are known as Individually Quick Frozen, or IQF, products.
More than 200 farmers grow on contract with NORPAC, raising 27 different crops ranging from strawberries, broccoli and cauliflower to zucchini, corn, beans and peas.
According to the co-op website, NORPAC is Oregon’s largest vegetable and fruit processor and the largest unionized agricultural employer in the state. The co-op has about 1,000 full-time workers and employs up to 3,500 people during the peak harvest and processing season.