|BG native to lead baby food firm|
|Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor|
|Monday, 04 June 2012 09:22|
Boutelle, 48, was appointed president of Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation of Amsterdam, N.Y., effective this week, the company announced.
For the past two years Boutelle and his family have been living in London, where he has been headquartered while serving as area vice president for Abbott Nutrition International. In that position he has overseen operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
He has been with Abbott Nutrition, the makers of such brands as Similac, Pedialyte and Ensure, since 2007. Prior to the international appointment he was headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, as division vice president and general manager of pediatric nutrition.
Boutelle previously worked at Nestle as a vice president of marketing, and at Procter & Gamble, serving as brand manager for Pampers.
A 1981 graduate of Bowling Green High School, he earned his undergraduate degree in 1985 from Bowling Green State University, in accounting and management information systems. Boutelle holds an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
"I just got done on Tuesday introducing myself to the new management team at Beech-Nut, and I think my upbringing in Bowling Green has served me well in my entire career. It's such a great place as a kid to grow up," he noted, with the small-town ambiance married to the cultural opportunities that come with living in a college town.
Boutelle said the board that hired him actually spelled out: "We were looking for a person with good Midwestern work values."
It was the folks at Beech-Nut who approached Boutelle about taking the reins of the company.
"They had a need for a new president" and already knew Boutelle's work.
"When I was running Similac in the U.S. we set up a partnership with Pampers and Beech-Nut" so Boutelle was not an unknown proposition. "It's a big deal, picking a new president. It's just a much better thing if you're bringing in somebody you already know."
"Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of the food industry, particularly infant products, to his new role with Beech-Nut," praised Jim Schneider, president and CEO of Hero - North America, which owns Beech-Nut. Hero is an international company based in Switzerland.
"Having had an opportunity to work with Jeff previously on a strategic alliance, I know he will be a great fit for Beech-Nut's business and its associates as the company continues to grow," Schneider added.
As president, Boutelle will have all operating responsibility for Beech-Nut and report to Schneider.
Boutelle plans to hit the ground running.
"The first thing I'd really like to do is build the brand. Beech-Nut has a great story to tell. Unlike our competition, we do not use any artificial ingredients" in baby food. "We still - at cost to us - package it in glass" instead of plastic. His company's product is "all natural, the best nutrition for baby, but we're not telling the story."
Boutelle admits that his entire career seems to be circling around the same - very young - customer base.
"When I was at Procter & Gamble I spent most of my time working with Pampers, so I got to know mothers and babies very well."
He says it didn't hurt that his own children were in the diaper stage at the time so he could conduct hands-on research at home.
Today the oldest of his and wife Catherine's three daughters, Clare, 23, has just graduated from Loyola in Chicago. Andie, 18, is a sophomore at Ohio State University; Maddie, 17, is about to enter OSU as a freshman. Son Henry is 13.
Boutelle's parents, Clif and Judy Boutelle, still reside in Bowling Green.
"We haven't seen him since this time last year, when Judy and I went over and visited them in England," said Clif Boutelle.
"This assignment I just got done doing was incredible from a learning standpoint. Traveling all across the continent and the Middle East, it just opens your mind to the greater world," said Jeff Boutelle.
"It's been an interesting time for us and our kids to be living in Europe, with the Eurozone issues," the economic implosion of Greece and other events.
"I was in Egypt, having meetings in Cairo, the week the (Arab Spring) demonstrations opened up" and his team got out just in time, before the Internet was shut down "and things got crazy."
Boutelle was to fly back to the U.S. on Sunday but the rest of his family will remain in England through mid-August before joining him in Albany, N.Y.
"For one thing, we had tickets for the Olympics" which open in London later this summer, so they plan to stay put temporarily. The family will be attending the gold-medal soccer game at Wembley Stadium, and also have tickets for diving, gymnastics, and volleyball events.
It's a fitting end to their time in London, which due to an accident of luck, also afforded them a nearly front-row spot in the crowds outside Buckingham Palace for William and Catherine's balcony appearance following their April 2011 royal wedding.
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