Four different confectionery manufacturers have announced personnel changes recently, including three companies that named new ceo’s.

Andreas Pfluger, a member of Lindt & Sprüngli’s Group Management, will head up the recently acquired Russell Stover Candy Inc. as its president and ceo. He will replace Tom Ward, the former president and ceo.

NECCO, America’s oldest continuously operating candy company, named Michael McGee as its new ceo, and also appointed him to its board of directors. McGee succeeds Al Gulachenski who is no longer with the company.

Meanwhile, Justin’s, maker of all-natural, high-quality nut butters and peanut butter cups, named Peter Burns as its new president and ceo.

And finally, The Ford Gum and Machine Co., Inc. appointed Jim Costas as its new regional sales manager for its retail division.

Pfluger, McGee experienced execs

Pfluger, a 20-year veteran of the Swiss-based chocolate company who now will head up Russell Stover Candy Co., is familiar with the confectionery landscape in the United States. 

Andreas Pfluger, new Russell Stover CEO
Andreas Pfluger, Lindt

He previously headed up Ghirardelli Chocolate Co.  before overseeing all North American operations for Lindt & Sprungli from 2005 to 2011. In 2011, he returned to the Swiss headquarters as member of the Extended Group Management and was promoted to become a member of the company’s Group Management in 2013.

NECCO says its new ceo also brings years of confectionery experience to his new role, as well as a consistent track record of reinvigorating iconic brands. 

Michael McGee NECCO
Michael McGee, NECCO

McGee has more than 15 years of general management experience in the consumer packaged goods industry across confections, beverage, food, and snacks at Mars Chocolate and Kraft Foods.

Most recently he served as the v.p. of marketing at Mars Chocolate. Prior to Mars, he held key management positions at Kraft Foods working with leading brands such as Jell-O, Maxwell House and Post Cereal.

“The Board is enthusiastic about NECCO’s future under his new leadership,” says Miles Arnone, speaking for the board.

As for McGee, he says he’s thrilled to take on the new role.

“This is a company with a rich American tradition — whether sharing NECCO Wafers with friends or using Sweethearts to tell your first crush how much you care,” he says. “I am eager to work with the management team to exceed our consumer and customer expectations as well as bring NECCO’s iconic candies to America’s next generation.”

Justin’s ceo a food industry veteran

Justin’s founder, Justin Gold, says he will still be involved in the day-to-day running of the company. However, as the company continues to grow, it was critical for them to bring in a seasoned veteran who had the, “expertise to take our company to the next level.” 

“As the founder of Justin’s, I will always be involved in the day-to-day, especially as it relates to the company culture, values and vision,” he explains. “Peter’s role is to lay the foundation to take us there. I could not have imagined a better person to fill this role. Not only is Peter a friend and a mentor, but he is an incredibly talented leader that I am fortunate to have join our team.”

In his new role, Burns will oversee all aspects of the business ensuring its goals are met. He has clearly defined strategic growth objectives for Justin’s, which includes revenue, growth margin and a focus on product and innovation.

Since joining the company earlier this year, he has been integral to building up the brand’s operations team in an effort to put it in a prime position for rapid growth. In addition, Burns has supported the sales function by bringing on two new team members, a senior vice president of sales and a vice president of sales, to implement a sales strategy and help the team to focus on the brand’s top customers.

“I have been in this industry for over 20 years, and it has always been my goal to lead a passion brand that stays true to its mission and provides consumers with products they can both trust and enjoy,” Burns says. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to be part of a company that I believe in both professionally and personally. Justin’s has tremendous growth potential and I look forward to bringing my experience to the brand.”

Prior to joining Justin’s, Burns was the president of Celestial Seasonings for Hain Celestial Group where he developed and managed the Celestial Seasonings worldwide business. He created business strategies and delivered 20 consecutive quarters of financial targets for the company. He also previously held positions including: chief sales officer for Hain Celestial Group U.S., executive v.p. of sales and marketing at Jones Soda Co. and executive v.p. of Sales at IZZE Beverage Co.

Ford Gum hires a brand builder 

Jim Costas, Ford Gum
Jim Costas, Ford Gum

And for Ford Gum, its newest hire, Costas, brings 35 years of experience in the confectionery industry to the company. He has held sales management positions with M&M/Mars, Amurol Products, Callard & Bowser-Suchard, and most recently Just Born.  

During his career, he has had the privilege of introducing such iconic brands as Skittles, Toblerone, Altoids, and Big League Chew originally through Amurol.

In his new position at Ford Gum, Costas will be responsible for managing the Ford Gum broker network and the sales of all Ford Gum retail products for the Eastern region of the United States across all classes of trade.