Leaders of Associated Milk Producers Inc. have chosen to take a team approach to fill the company's top management spot. The AMPI Board of Directors have announced it has appointed longtime employees Donn DeVelder and Sheryl Meshke as co-presidents and CEOs.
"Transitioning to a partnership is a natural decision for us because AMPI, by its very nature as a cooperative, is about teamwork," said Steve Schlangen, chairman of the board and a dairy farmer from Albany, Minn.
"In Donn and Sheryl we have a combined half-century of service to the dairy farmer-owners of AMPI," he said. "Their individual skills and knowledge of the company's operations are complementary. This gives us a much broader set of experience and ideas with which to chart AMPI's strategies for success."
DeVelder and Meshke were executive senior vice presidents before being named acting co-presidents and CEOs in December. The move followed the resignation of Ed Welch, who had been with the dairy marketing cooperative for 31 years, and president and CEO since 2008.
"Throughout their careers with AMPI, Donn and Sheryl have demonstrated a high level of competence and cooperation, and offered a powerful and thoughtful vision for AMPI's future," Schlangen said.
DeVelder has spent more than 30 years with AMPI, beginning as a field representative providing on-farm consultation and assistance to the co-op's dairy farmer-owners. He then joined the corporate staff at the cooperative's New Ulm, Minn., office. In his position as executive senior vice president, he was responsible for fluid marketing and member services. DeVelder is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa.
Meshke has been with AMPI for nearly 25 years. During that time she has served as vice president of public affairs and strategic planning. Following appointment as executive senior vice president, she focused on human resources and strategic initiatives aimed at strengthening the Midwest dairy cooperative's performance and value. Meshke holds a bachelor's degree in agriculture from South Dakota State University and a master's degree in business from the University of St. Thomas.
AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn., and owned by 2,600 Midwest dairy farm families from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. AMPI members annually market about 5.8 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $2 billion in sales for the cooperative. AMPI owns 10 manufacturing plants and markets cheese, butter and powdered dairy products, serving foodservice, retail and food ingredient customers.