Coffee Roasters Changes
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. founder Bob Stiller is stepping down as president and chief executive officer, the company announced Thursday.
Lawrence Blanford, an executive with a background with major corporations, has been named president and chief executive.
Stiller, 63, will remain as board chairman of the company he started 26 years ago. The change allows Stiller to spend more time working on the company's foundation and related corporate responsibility initiatives, and puts the company in the hands of someone in tune with the needs of a rapidly growing operation, he said.
"With the acquisition of the Keurig system last year it has really shifted the growth and potential growth of the company substantially," Stiller said, referring to the single-cup coffee machine business GMCR bought. "We're also putting in place some technology that really supports our ability to grow geographically."
With that growth in mind, Stiller interviewed candidates with experience in large corporations for seats on the company board. Blanford was one of those candidates. Stiller was impressed with Blanford's background and his passion for Green Mountain Coffee's social mission.
While he wasn't necessarily looking for a replacement, Stiller said Blanford clicked with Green Mountain Coffee. Blanford was looking for a company to lead after turning around troubled Canadian building products company Royal Group Technologies Ltd. The company was bought in October, leaving Blanford without a job.
Blanford, 53, joins Green Mountain Coffee during a period of robust growth. Sales for the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, were $225 million and are expected to grow 40 to 50 percent this fiscal year, revised upward from 35 percent to 40 percent, the company said in its second-quarter earnings report issued Thursday.
A good share of that growth is coming from Keurig Inc. The Massachusetts subsidiary was part of the motivation for finding new leadership, Stiller said.
Blanford's background is strong on consumer goods. He was president and chief executive of Philips Consumer Electronics North America, president of Maytag Appliances and Maytag International. He was also vice president of marketing and sales at Johns Manville, a maker of building insulation, and held management positions at personal products giant Procter & Gamble.
While Green Mountain Coffee is much smaller than the billion-dollar operations he has headed, Blanford said he sees tremendous opportunity with the company.
"When I make a career decision, my heart and my head have to both be aligned. My heart was quickly captured here as I met with Bob and understood more clearly what Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was about in terms of being very focused on financial success and corporate social responsibility and developing people," Blanford said.
Secretary of Commerce and Community Development Kevin Dorn is encouraged by the company's potential for growth. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has been recognized many times for its leadership in corporate responsibility and is a model company for the state, Dorn said.
"For me, I'm pleased to see he's going to continue to be chairman of the board, but it's clear they are bringing someone in who has experience in bringing companies to the next level," Dorn said.
Green Mountain Coffee stock closed at $71.85 on Thursday up $5.94 a share or 9 percent. The company's stock is traded on the Nasdaq exchange.