Mike Townsley talks future growth at Bob Evans Farms after split

Bob Evans Farms has the capacity now to grow, especially with more resources and reach under Post Holdings. It plans to distribute more products to the West Coast, get into new markets like convenience stores and to increase its food service clients.

“We’re getting calls almost on a weekly basis from large national chains of restaurants that are looking for solutions to help them with some of their labor challenges in the back of the house,” Townsley says.

A five-pound bag of pre-cooked mashed potatoes that is made with real potatoes, milk and butter is less labor intensive than someone peeling, mashing and boiling potatoes in the kitchen.

He’s excited about the future.

“We are pleased at the prospect of combining our complementary portfolios with Post Holdings,” Townsley said in a September press release when the sale was announced. “This transaction creates enhanced and certain value for our stockholders, while providing further resources and reach to deliver the Bob Evans experience to a broader audience of consumers and retailers. We are very proud of our 70 year history as a beloved brand and eager to begin this next chapter of growth.”

 

Takeaways:

  • Take advantage of opportunities with strategic thinking.
  • Sophisticated operations require the right people to run them.
  • Tell the story of your long-term growth strategy.

 

The Townsley File:

Name: Mike Townsley
Title: President and CEO
Company: Bob Evans Farms Inc.

Born: Xenia, Ohio
Education: Bachelor of Science in agriculture, with a background in animal science/meat science, The Ohio State University

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? Baling hay. You quickly learned that your skill set dictates what part of the process you wanted to be in.

So, you didn’t want to be up in the hayloft, stacking hay in the hot barn? Well, unfortunately, I became proficient at it, and they wanted to keep me there.

What business leader do you most admire and why? A gentleman that ran Iowa Beef Processors, named Bob Peterson. I probably learned as much from Bob as anyone. Bob was a real driver of the business, and literally he was, for the meat industry, kind of a Vince Lombardi. He would call president staff meetings, essentially it was corporate management — and at that time, I was on the sales and marketing side. Three or four times a year, he would have these meetings and he literally approached things like a football coach. When you left that meeting, you were ready to run through the wall because you believed that we were the best in the industry and that we were going to crush our competition, because we were the low-cost producers and we did things better than everybody else.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? I have three children: one works in Washington, D.C., the other is in New York City and my other son is in special operations in the Navy. So, we spend a lot of our time visiting and traveling with them.

What’s your favorite dish to order at the Bob Evans Restaurants? I stick to the Rise and Shine, which are the basic two eggs, sausage, hash browns and toast. But there is a unique product in the restaurants that my grandfather introduced me to at Bob Evans Restaurants some 50 years ago, and that’s deep-fried cornmeal mush.