After a 42-year career with Prairie Farms Dairy, industry executive Ed Mullins retired on Dec. 31. This followed his decision in late 2021 to step down as CEO and EVP to assume a new role as senior executive officer in 2022.
A celebration of his career was held last week in Edwardsville, Illinois, where hundreds of people, including Prairie Farms’ board members, present and past co-workers, industry professionals, and friends, gathered over a two-day span to honor Mullins and share well-wishes for his retirement.
“It was a privilege to serve Prairie Farms over the last 42 years. My decision to retire was bittersweet because the Prairie Farms’ family means the world to me. From board members to our dairy farmers and employees, I will always be humbled by their trust in me to lead our fine company,” Mullins said.
“At the same time, I’m looking forward to settling into retirement and enjoying the next phase of my life.”
As part of the celebration of Mullins’ career and legacy, a new wall of honors was unveiled at Prairie Farms’ corporate office. A lobby wall now displays portraits of Mullins and former CEOs F.A. Gourley, Leonard Southwell and Roger Capps. Also, in Mullins’ honor, a conference room is being transformed into the Edward L. Mullins Conference Center.
“Ed has not only been my mentor throughout my 33-year career with Prairie Farms but a dear friend as well,” said Matt McClelland, Prairie Farms’ CEO and EVP.
“It has been an honor to work with an industry legend for so many years, and Ed’s extraordinary leadership and contributions to Prairie Farms are beyond measure. On behalf of our board members, dairy farmers and employees, we wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
Mullins’ career with Prairie Farms started in 1980. He held numerous leadership positions and served as CEO and EVP from 2006-21 and was the fourth CEO since the company’s founding in 1938. He was the driving force behind many mergers and acquisitions that expanded Prairie Farms’ footprint into new markets and product categories.
Mullins attributes the company’s success and longevity to staying true to the vision of its founding leaders to simply “do right.”
Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. is a large dairy cooperatives operating in the Midwest and the South. Elements of the cooperative include more than 600 farm families, 7,000 team members, 50 manufacturing plants, more than 100 distribution facilities and annual sales of $4 billion.
Prairie Farms’ distribution footprint covers more than 30 percent of the U.S., with products available in grocery chains, mass merchandiser stores, club stores, convenience stores, dollar stores, drug stores, schools, foodservice outlets and warehouse distribution centers.