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Visiting Leader: John Flood (BA ’80)

John Flood Thinking Like the Owner as a Foodservice Manufacturer

(March 17, 2017, East Lansing, MI)   “I never thought about this part of the hospitality industry until today.”  This is from Anna Margosian (BA ’17), a student in Dr. Ron Cichy’s Hospitality Business Strategy class which hosted Visiting Leader John Flood (BA ’80) on Monday, February 27, 2017.  John is a 1980 alumnus of The School of Hospitality Business, and a 2016 member of The School’s Alumni Association Hall of Fame, Class of the Accomplished.  As vice president and general manager – prepared foods of Wayne Farms, John presented the manufacturing/supply side of the industry in a new light: he told the students to “think like the owner.”

Sharing his company’s history and successful business model, John pointed out that 6.5 million chickens are processed each week – Wayne is a leader in the business-to-business poultry market, supplying such industry leaders as Chick-fil-A, Jack in the Box, Gordon Food Service, Nestle, Sysco, Heinz, and Red Robin.  “Quality and safety of the products are critically important,” says John.

He explained that Wayne Farms Further Processing unit plans to deliver record profits in 2017, and to nearly double that by 2020.  With innovation, a focus on quality, and a “customer first” approach, Wayne Farms will surely meet its goals.  John says, “Gaining agreement on strategic milestones along the way is required.  Bite off one piece at a time.”

“Success,” says John, “relies on good strategy combined with great implementation.”  He speaks from experience, mainly in the family business-to-business model.

John had words of advice, personally, for the students, as well.  “You won’t know everything.  Admit it and commit yourself to continuous improvement.”  He urged them to find balance.  “Your job is not your entire life,” he reminded them.

John shared his Three Leading Questions with students.  “What are my values?”  The answer will lead each person to line up his/her values with the values of the company.  “What do I want to build?”  The answer will help a person develop and use SMARTER Goals to build a winning strategy.  To illuminate this question, John briefed the students about FY 2016 at Wayne Farms.  Its success has put the company on the path to realizing is FY 2020 vision.  This outcome was achieved, he said, with LEAP: legally, ethically, adding value, and policy adherence.

The third question, “When am I adding value?” was addressed in light of the strategies for self, for others, and for the organization.

John also shared memories (and photos!) from his college days at MSU.  Back in 1980, John’s remarkable career was launched as a direct result of an internship he was awarded by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA).  He says, “I would not have had the opportunities I have had without the support of MSU and IFMA, who recognized that students need to understand their options and have a vision for their future.”  He has stayed active in IFMA his whole career, and for a number of years, he has annually sent two promising students from The School to IFMA’s Presidents Conference.  The Presidents Conference is in Phoenix each fall and includes leaders from the largest food service manufacturers, distributors, and chain restaurants.

John’s closing wisdom was a reminder that “You are the leader of everything you do.”

“John is an alumnus who continually gives back to our students,” says Dr. Cichy.  “He should be very proud of his career and the way he models his values.  I know we are fortunate to have him involved in the life of our School.”

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For more information about The School of Hospitality Business, please visit: www.hospitalitybusiness.broad.msu.edu


Eli Broad College of Business

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