SHEBOYGAN FALLS, WI
For the first time in the company's history, Johnsonville Sausage will not be led by a member of the Stayer family.
The current CEO, Ralph Stayer, will retire April 1st, but will continue to serve as chairman of the board, according to ABC News.
Nick Meriggioli, a former president of Oscar Mayer, will succeed Chief Executive Officer Ralph C. Stayer, after 47 years at the helm of Johnsonville Sausage.
Nick Meriggioli has spent more than 20 years at Kraft Foods, and spent seven years in Madison as Executive Vice President and President of Oscar Mayer until 2013.
"During my time at Oscar Mayer, I have admired Ralph Stayer and the success of the Johnsonville business," Meriggioli said in a press release. "I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to lead this great company and look forward to continuing their impressive growth and business performance."
The decision to hire Meriggioli was a "no-brainer," Stayer told the Naples Daily News.
"Johnsonville is owned by the family, but it's a meritocracy," Stayer continued. "My responsibility was finding someone who is going to be better at running it than I was. I found that guy."
Stayer's parents, Ralph F. and Alice Stayer, co-founded a butcher shop near Sheboygan Falls in 1945 and eventually began turning out sausage using family recipes dating to 19th-century Austria. Fast-forward to today, where the company has grown into a multimillion-dollar business and has become the #1 national brand of sausage, according to The Journal Sentinel.
"Over the last 70 years, we have worked hard to build a distinctive culture and make exceptional products for our customers," Stayer said in a press release. "I am pleased to welcome (Meriggioli) and confident that his track record of building and empowering people is the perfect fit for the company and our members."
William Morgan will remain as president of Johnsonville Sausage, which is based in Sheboygan Falls and employs about 1,500 people, according to The Journal Sentinel.