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Hy-Vee Chairman and CEO Ric Jurgens plans to retire from the company effective June 1 after more than four decades with the Iowa-based supermarket chain.
Jurgens, 62, has been Hy-Vee’s top officer since 2006. He made the announcement at the grocer's annual stockholders' meeting Wednesday.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have spent my entire career working for a great company filled with great people,” Jurgens said. “It has been an honor to lead a team of nearly 60,000 employees dedicated to our mission of making lives easier, healthier and happier, and I’m proud of the things we have been able to accomplish together as a Hy-Vee family. We have a skilled management group in place to help propel Hy-Vee to even greater heights, so I will leave this summer with a great deal of confidence in the future of the company.”
Jurgens said he will ask the board of directors at its May meeting to elect Hy-Vee’s current president and COO, Randy Edeker, to succeed him as chairman and CEO.
Edeker, 49, said Jurgens’ leadership has made Hy-Vee a stronger, more focused and more innovative retail company. “Ric helped us refine our mission and our vision, and never let us lose sight of the fact that everything we do as a company is done in service to the customer,” Edeker said. “Even in the midst of the economic downturn, he encouraged us to be proactive and find new ways to improve the customer experience in our stores. His wise counsel and the confidence he places in all of us have made him the right leader at the right time for Hy-Vee.”
During Jurgens’ tenure at the helm, Hy-Vee has grown to 235 stores in eight states and has increased sales to a record $7.3 billion for 2011. In recent years, the company has gained a reputation as an industry leader in health and wellness, with innovations such as in-store dietitians, the NuVal nutritional scoring system and the Hy-Vee Triathlon, and has made a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
Jurgens has been a leader on the national scene as well, serving a two-year term as chairman of the Food Marketing Institute and helping launch the industry’s Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and groundbreaking front-of-package labeling initiative. Earlier this year, he was asked by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to co-chair the governor’s Healthiest State Initiative, a plan to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation over the next five years.
A 42-year veteran of the company, Jurgens began his career as a part-time employee in Ames while attending Iowa State University. After graduating from ISU, he accepted a full-time position and swiftly moved up through the ranks, serving as a store director and regional manager before being named president of Perishable Distributors of Iowa, a Hy-Vee subsidiary, in 1986. He returned to the parent company in 1995 as senior vice president and chief administrative officer, and in 2001 he succeeded Ron Pearson to become only the third president in Hy-Vee’s history. In 2003 he was elected CEO, and in 2006 he succeeded Pearson as Hy-Vee’s chairman of the board.
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating 235 retail stores in eight Midwestern states.