AUSTIN, MINN. – More people are on the move at Hormel Foods Corp. — the company announced two promotions and a retirement.
Jeff Frank, currently vice president of Grocery Products and leader of the integration of the Planters brand into Hormel Foods, will succeed Luis Marconi as group vice president, Grocery Products. Marconi is retiring after a 20-year career with Hormel.
“Frank will assume responsibility for continuing to evolve the company’s portfolio to meet the changing needs of today’s consumers, amplifying scale in snacking and entertaining, and growing the company’s ethnic and food-forward portfolio,” the company said.
The Grocery Products business includes many of Hormel’s most well-known brands such as Planters, SKIPPY, Justin’s, Dinty Moore, Hormel chili, Corn Nuts, Herdez and WHOLLY, as well as its iconic SPAM brand, among others.
“Jeff is assuming the leadership of Grocery Products at an incredibly exciting time,” said Jim Snee, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, Hormel Foods. “Our growing portfolio of leading brands has never been stronger, especially with the acquisition of Planters.
“Jeff has been an outstanding leader of some of our most dynamic brands and businesses, including accelerating the growth of our MegaMex business as its president,” Snee continued. “He has a strong background in marketing, sales, business strategy and innovation. I look forward to working with him to continue to deliver growth in Grocery Products.”
Frank began his career with Hormel Foods in 1998 in San Francisco, Calif. His progression at Hormel Foods consists of senior roles in product and brand management, including being named director of retail marketing and vice president of retail marketing. In 2009, he joined the company's joint venture with Herdez del Fuerte S.A. de C.V. (Mexico), MegaMex Foods, as the vice president of marketing. He was named president and CEO of MegaMex Foods in 2013 and is credited with successfully leading the global supply chain and driving business growth with on-trend brands such as WHOLLY guacamole and Herdez salsa. In 2018, he was named vice president of marketing for foodservice at Hormel Foods and assumed his current role as vice president of Grocery Products in 2021.
Frank earned an executive certificate from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and a bachelor’s degree in business administration and Spanish from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He has also completed Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program.
In more personnel news, Wendy A. Watkins was promoted to the new post of senior vice president and chief communications officer for Hormel Foods’ global operations.
In this newly created role, Watkins will continue her stewardship of the Hormel Foods corporate reputation, internal and external communications, corporate social responsibility and issues management across the organization, the company said. She oversees the company’s charitable trust, and its consumer response and engagement group, along with its creative studios. Watkins has led communications since joining Hormel Foods in 2015 as vice president of corporate communications. Watkins will report to Snee.
“As more organizations focus on ESG initiatives, Hormel Foods is proud of the work we have done as one of world’s top corporate citizens, leading with transparency, integrity and trust with our stakeholders in all that we do,” Snee said. “Since joining Hormel Foods six years ago, Wendy has built a world-class communications team and elevated the global reputation of Hormel Foods. She has led our corporate responsibility commitments through the creation of Our Food Journey, which has had a positive impact on our people, our communities and our products.
“Additionally, Wendy was instrumental in the company’s COVID-19 response, ensuring the commitment of Hormel Foods to our people and our communities never wavered in the midst of this pandemic,” he said. “Her energy, experience and passion for our culture make her a tremendous resource to this company.”
Watkins joined Hormel as vice president of corporate communications in 2015 with more than 25 years of experience in global strategic communications, public affairs, marketing and corporate responsibility. Prior to that, she spent 15 years as global vice president of corporate communications for Delaware North Companies, one of the largest privately held food, sports and hospitality companies in the world. Prior to Delaware North, she held positions in communications with Marriott Corporation, Empire of America’s Brandywine Enterprises real estate division and Lanier Associates, a public relations and advertising agency.
Watkins has been active in the communications industry and was inducted into the PRWeek Hall of Femme in 2021. She was also honored as a change-maker in the 2021 Top Women in PR Awards program. She is a member of the Forbes Communications Council, the Arthur Page Society, the Vice Presidents Forum and the CCO Council.
Watkins earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.