Freshpet Inc. has announced that Richard Thompson plans to retire as CEO and director, effective July 1, 2016.

The Board of Directors plans to retain a leading executive recruiting firm to assist in identifying and evaluating candidates for the position of CEO, and if a candidate is appointed in advance of July 1, 2016, Thompson will continue with the company in a non-executive position until July. During the period of transition, Thompson will continue as CEO and he will remain a consultant to the company through November 7, 2017. 

In addition, the Board of Directors has appointed current chief operating officer and co-founder, Scott Morris, to the additional position of president, where he will continue to be involved in all aspects of company development and day-to-day operations, and Walt George, an independent director of Freshpet, will take a direct role in managing the transition process.

Thompson has been a member of Freshpet’s Board of Directors since 2010 and assumed the role of CEO in January 2011. 

“Freshpet has a tremendous team in place and it’s been a wonderful experience leading such a dedicated group. I am proud of our accomplishments and will leave with tremendous confidence in their abilities and in Freshpet’s future growth,” Thompson said.

Charlie Norris, chairman of the Freshpet Board of Directors, said: “The Board and I would like to thank Richard for his many years of service and significant contributions to Freshpet. Under Richard’s leadership, the company successfully transitioned from a private to a public company and experienced considerable growth to the over 15,000 Freshpet fridges across the U.S. today.”

 “The Board is focused on identifying the right candidate to lead Freshpet through its next phases of growth, while providing opportunities for our people and delivering greater value to our stockholders,” Norris said. 

In addition to being an independent director on Freshpet’s Board of Directors, George is the President of G3 Consulting LLC, a boutique advisory firm specializing in value creation in small and mid-market consumer products companies, a company he founded in 2013. He served as president of the American Italian Pasta Co. and corporate vice president of Ralcorp Holdings from 2010 until its sale to ConAgra Foods in 2013. He served as COO at American Italian Pasta Co. from 2008 to 2010. From 2001 to 2008, George served in other executive operating roles. From 1988 through 2001, he held a number of senior operating positions with Hill’s Pet Nutrition, a subsidiary of Colgate Palmolive Co., the last of which was vice president of Supply Chain. George began his professional career with Frito-Lay Inc. He serves on the board of directors of Vision Bank and Old World Spice and Seasoning Co.