Rich Seban retiring at Hostess Brands

by Josh Sosland
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KANSAS CITY — Richard C. Seban, an executive who played a central role in the winding down of Hostess Brands, Inc. and the post-bankruptcy revival of the snack cake business as Hostess Brands L.L.C., is retiring as vice-chairman of Hostess Brands L.L.C. His departure from the company was announced by William Toler, president and chief executive officer of Hostess.

“We owe a tremendous amount of thanks to Rich for his contributions to Hostess over the last two years bringing the new Hostess Brands back to life,” Mr. Toler said in a letter to Hostess employees.

Richard C. Seban, former vice-chariman of Hostess.

Mr. Seban first joined Interstate Bakeries Corp. (later renamed Hostess Brands) in 2005, and he was the executive who in November 2013 was tasked with notifying customers that the company would abruptly cease operations.

“I must regretfully inform you that Hostess Brands has shut down all operations, and will be pursuing the sale process of all of our brands and company assets,” he said in a letter to customers. “Many people have worked incredibly long and hard to keep this from happening, but now Hostess Brands has no other alternative than to begin the process of winding down and preparing for the sale of our iconic brands.”

When the liquidation of the business was completed, Mr. Seban was named president of Hostess Brands L.L.C., the snack cake business acquired out of bankruptcy in March 2013 by private equity firms Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management L.L.C. It was while he was in this position that Hostess snack cakes returned to store shelves in what was marketed by the company as “the sweetest comeback in the history of ever.” The company’s brands include Twinkies, Cup Cakes, Ding Dongs, HoHos and many others.

Hostess experienced “record sales,” Mr. Seban said in July 2013 after the relaunch, which followed a major shift in the company’s business model to warehouse distribution from direct-store delivery.

“We knew this comeback would be historic and interest would be significant,” he said at the time. “But the demand has far outpaced even our most ambitious projections. We are running our bakeries at their fullest capacity and are doing everything possible to make sure we are fulfilling orders to our retail partners as quickly as possible so they can replenish their shelves for eager consumers.”

Included in the Metropoulos/Apollo acquisition were five baking plants, located in Columbus, Ga.; Schiller Park, Ill.; Indianapolis; Emporia, Kas; and Los Angeles. Under the new ownership, the latter plant was not reopened, and the Schiller Park facility was closed in August 2014 after the company made major capital improvements and additions to the Emporia plant and investments in its other remaining facilities.

Mr. Seban was named vice-chairman of the company in May 2014 when he was succeeded by Mr. Toler.

Since then numerous news sources have indicated the private equity owners of Hostess have initiated a sales process for the company, seeking many multiples of the $410 million they paid for the business a little more than two years ago.

While at Interstate/Hostess, Mr. Seban held the positions of executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, chief customer officer and chief operating officer. Before that, his career included stints with Rich Foods, where he was vice-president of consumer products; 16 years at Sara Lee Corp., where he rose to the position of executive vice-president of marketing; and then High Liner Foods, where he was president and chief operating officer.

“Rich has held executive positions in many iconic companies through the years,” Mr. Toler said. “Here he has helped to orchestrate one of the most amazing comebacks in the history of consumer packaged goods. His character, abilities and passion have not only taken our iconic brands to new heights but they have also built strong leaders though his endless mentorship and friendship to many that were fortunate enough to have worked with and for him.”
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READER COMMENTS (1)

By Michael Bowser 6/29/2015 8:06:12 PM
Thank you for 20,000 jobs lost at Old Hostess, your certainly deeply indebted to each and every one.