GREENWICH, Conn. -- UST Inc. said that Murray S. Kessler, 47, has been elected CEO by the company's board of directors, effective Jan. 1, 2007.
Kessler succeeds Vincent A. Gierer Jr., 59, who, as previously announced, will retire as CEO at the end of this year and serve as nonexecutive chairman of the UST board. Kessler has been president and CEO of UST as well as a board member since November 2005.
Murray Kessler's proven leadership in his seven years at UST, including his focus on building long-term sustainable growth for our [image-nocss] company, as well as his previous extensive consumer products experience, combine to make him the right person to lead this company forward, said Gierer. He has been instrumental in driving growth for the smokeless tobacco category, innovation, and for the implementation of our cost-cutting initiative, Project Momentum, which will help provide the resources necessary to enable us to become more competitive in an increasingly challenging external environment.
Before assuming parent company executive responsibilities, Kessler was president of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. (USSTC). Under his leadership, USSTC launched a multi-year strategic plan focused on growing the smokeless tobacco category by attracting adult smokers to the category through new products and communication efforts. As a result, overall category growth has more than tripled, the company said, making it one of the fastest growing segments in the consumer packaged goods sector.
Prior to being named president of USSTC in April 2000, Kessler served as senior vice president responsible for sales and marketing.
Kessler joined USSTC in 2000 with more than 18 years of consumer packaged goods experience at companies including Campbell Soup and Clorox. He has had management responsibility for such major brands as Swanson Frozen Foods, Pace picante sauces, Prego pasta sauces, Franco-American pastas and gravies, and Clorox bleaches.
Gierer has served as CEO since 1993 and president since 1990. He joined the company in 1978 and was elected controller in 1983. In 1986, he was promoted to senior vice president and named to the board. In 1987, Gierer was elected CFO. The following year he was named executive vice president. Before joining UST, Gierer worked for Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young).
UST Inc. is a holding company for its principal subsidiaries: USSTC and International Wine & Spirits Ltd. USSTC is a major producer and marketer of moist smokeless tobacco products including Copenhagen, Skoal, Red Seal and Husky. International Wine & Spirits Ltd. produces and markets wines sold nationally through the Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Conn Creek, and Villa Mt. Eden wineries, as well as sparkling wine produced under the Domaine Ste. Michelle label.
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