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Utz’s new CEO making smooth transition

Dylan Lissette is president and chief executive officer of Hanover-based Utz Quality Foods. - (Photo / Submitted)

The generational transition at Utz Quality Foods is going smoothly as Dylan Lissette has held the title of president and chief executive officer for about four months.

The more than 1,300 employees in Hanover likely didn’t notice the transition when Lissette, who had been president and chief operating officer, took over the title held by his father-in-law, Mike Rice, the family-owned company’s third generation.
“I’ve basically been in a leadership role for last four or five years,” Lissette said. “As we’ve moved through the management team, as you do at any business, you try to game plan out a couple years. The role has morphed into this position.”
Rice will continue helping to guide the management team, Lissette said.
“He will remain an active chairman of the board, not much different from family-run businesses around here of our size,” he said.
Meanwhile, the transition has allowed for lower-level management promotions. That includes promoting Jeff Martin to executive vice president of sales and marketing and Thomas Lawrence to executive vice president of production and planning.
As for the direction of the company, Lissette, 42, said it will continue to find opportunities. Since 2011, the company has acquired several smaller snackfood companies, including Louisiana-based Zappe Endeavors; Massachusetts-based The Wachusett Potato Chip Co. Inc.; and Reading-based Bachman Co., a 125-year-old pretzel maker.
In 2013, total revenue was $560 million, up from $540 million in 2012, according to Business Journal records.
In a 2013 Central Penn Business Journal story, company officials had said they wanted to reach $1 billion by 2021, the company’s 100th birthday.
“We sort of say that, but I wouldn’t say we have a particular goal of a certain dollar amount by a certain year,” Lissette said. “We’re looking for good, solid, strong growth built upon good decisions at the right time, not growth at all costs by any means.”
The company is looking to expand into the Cleveland market, as well as grow its foothold in North Carolina and Atlanta, he said.
Lissette, who graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., has worked at the company for 19 years. He and his wife, Stacie, have five children and live in Hanover.

Joseph Deinlein

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