Darigold, Inc., one of the nation’s largest dairy producers, announced that Chief Executive Officer Joe Coote is leaving the company and that Board Chairman Allan Huttema has been named Interim CEO. The change comes as Coote, who was named to the CEO role in January 2022, plans to return to his native Australia.
“I take over as Interim CEO with the benefit of having an extremely capable leadership team in place, including several Darigold veterans and newer leaders with proven track records across the dairy and consumer packaged goods sectors,” said Huttema. “Our business is structured to run around two divisions – business to business and business to consumer – each with experienced, proven leaders running them. I have full confidence that the team and the structure we have in place will help ensure that we continue serving our customers in the way they have come to expect from us.”
One of the nation’s largest dairy producers, Darigold is deep into a multi-year transformational journey that has the company modernizing and globalizing its business. Its transformation is focused on expanding production capacity with a new facility currently under construction in Pasco, Wash., modernizing systems, reinvesting in its iconic, 100-year-old brand, and refocusing its culture on excellence in execution.
Coote joined Darigold three years ago as President of its International Ingredients division before being promoted to CEO in 2022. He’d spent 12 years prior working globally in the dairy sector.
“Joe took over as CEO at a time when we were early into a transformation to grow and modernize our business,” said Huttema. “Under his leadership, we took significant steps forward on that effort, beginning construction of our new facility in Pasco, launching a migration of our business management systems, and beginning to develop a culture rooted in excellence in operations. We are grateful for Joe’s time with Darigold and appreciate all of his contributions. On behalf of our full Board, I wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Huttema is one of Darigold’s 300 farmer-owners and has served on its Board of Directors for nine years. He has held the role of Chairman of the Board for the last three years. His experience on Darigold’s Board, coupled with his work as an active dairyman in Idaho, gives Huttema a unique and well-rounded experience with Darigold and a deep understanding of its complex operations.
Darigold has taken recent steps to strengthen its already capable leadership team, naming Presidents for its Business to Consumer and Business to Business divisions, hiring consumer packaged goods leader Dan Hofmeister and dairy sector veteran Chris Rowe to fill those roles, respectively. The company also named a new Senior Vice President of Sales, Dan Bukowski, to support its growth efforts.
“Serving as CEO of Darigold the last two years was a great privilege,” said Coote. “I have enormous respect and admiration for our farmer-owners and the teams across our business that work so hard to keep our customers stocked with great, high-quality dairy products. Having been away from my home country for many years now, my family and I are ready to return to Australia to begin new adventures back home.”
Huttema assumes the role of Interim CEO effective immediately.