SEATTLE — Darigold, Inc. announced Jan. 4 that President and CEO Stan Ryan will retire at the end of the co-op’s fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, after leading the global dairy company for six years. Under the company’s succession plan, Joe Coote, who currently serves as president of Darigold’s Global Ingredients Division, has been promoted to CEO of the 104-year-old dairy co-op, one of the largest privately-held businesses in the Pacific Northwest.
“Stan has been a game-changing and transformative leader at Darigold. Under his leadership, our co-op significantly improved its performance, advanced its modernization and growth, re-established its brand and customer franchise, initiated the largest capital investments in our history to solidify the co-op, and built and strengthened internal teams to make Darigold a more formidable competitor at home and on the global stage,” said Allan Huttema, chairman of Darigold’s board of directors. “We are all grateful for Stan’s leadership, character, and personal integrity. He leaves with our deepest respect and gratitude for setting our co-op on a trajectory that is commensurate with the underlying values and aspirations of our more than 300 farmer-owners.”
Ryan came to Darigold in 2016 after spending 25 years at Cargill Corporation where he held a variety of senior leadership positions, serving as president or general manager of seven businesses in five countries. Since joining Darigold, Ryan led an effort to modernize and globalize the co-op, making significant investments in the company’s infrastructure, strengthening support functions in its corporate offices, and pledging to make the company carbon neutral by 2050. He redirected the company’s focus to emphasize more smart-value-added and higher-margin products, and in 2021, he finalized a deal to build a new milk protein and butter processing facility in Pasco, Wash.
“Leading Darigold for the last six years has been a tremendous honor, I’m proud to be associated with this enterprise and its enduring commitment to success,” Ryan said. “When I arrived, I found an organization with a rich legacy in the dairy industry and immense potential for competitive leadership in the future. I am confident that I am leaving the co-op with a solid foundation of capabilities and the internal team to deliver that bright future, especially with Joe at the helm.”
Coote came to Darigold as president of the company’s Global Ingredients Division in November 2020 with a demonstrated track record of leadership in consumer-packaged goods and food, including deep experience and expertise in the global and U.S. dairy sectors, most recently serving in various leadership roles with one of the world’s largest dairy companies.
“We brought Joe into our company with succession in mind, and as candidate to replace Stan,” Huttema added. “He brings extensive experience leading international organizations, including 14 years in senior leadership positions in global and domestic dairy. In his time at Darigold, Joe has made significant impacts in our Global Ingredients Division, building strong relationships with customers and throughout the value chain, advancing commercialization, and growing revenues. He is the right leader to help us on our journey to lead dairy forward from the very solid foundation Stan has put in place.”
“Stan has been a great leader for Darigold, and it’s been a privilege working alongside him since I joined the company,” Coote said. “I grew up in a rural community in eastern Australia in a family business that served dairy, beef, and crop farmers, and have been close to farming as long as I can remember. Working in this capacity to build value for our farmer-owners, finding new ways to add value for our customers, and expanding our commercial potential in the U.S. and abroad are how we’re leading dairy forward and I’m eager to take on that challenge.”
Coote takes over at Darigold as it prepares to break ground on a new dairy processing facility in Pasco, Wash. The Pasco project, coupled with rebuilding its butter and milk powder facility in Caldwell, Idaho, which suffered extensive fire damage in October, puts Darigold at the beginning of an important period of capital improvement projects.
“The time for a leadership change is at the beginning of that cycle of investment,” explained Huttema. “Making these changes now ensures that we will have leadership continuity throughout this cycle of major business investment -- from construction start-up to full commercialization.”
Headquartered in Seattle, Darigold, Inc. is the marketing and processing subsidiary of Northwest Dairy Association (NDA), which is owned by nearly 350 dairy farm families in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Darigold handles approximately 10 billion pounds of milk annually. Darigold produces a full line of dairy-based products for retail, foodservice, commodity, and specialty markets, and is one of the largest U.S. dairy processors. Darigold, Inc. operates 11 plants throughout the Northwest, processing high-quality milk produced by NDA farm families. For more information, visit darigold.com.