Third generation: George Smith follows in family’s footsteps

January, 2016 Posted in Business, People
George Smith

George Smith

By Mary Owen

NORPAC President/CEO George Smith was “so to speak, born” into the food business.

“My grandfather was the first manager of Stayton Canning Co. when it was founded in 1924, my uncle, Fernando Smith, was the second manager, and my father, Walter Smith, was the third,” said Smith, who began working at the Stayton plant every summer from age 16 until graduating from college.

But Smith’s connection to the plant started even earlier, when, as a young lad, he accompanied his dad on his rounds to check production at the plant.

“So I was raised in the business and became very familiar with the plant and the people,” Smith said. “I did every job there was in the plant. And I saw the food business as a promising and important life career.”

Born and raised in Stayton, Smith attended St. Mary Grade School and Regis High School.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in food science from Oregon State University before beginning his career with East Point Seafood Co., a Seattle food company with commercial fishing and production facilities in Alaska.

After his tenure in the seafood industry, Smith was hired full-time in 1978 as an aide to Art Christensen, then production manager of corporate Stayton Canning Co., now NORPAC.

When Christensen was name president and chief executive officer of the canning company, Smith was promoted to Christensen’s position as vice-president of operations.

Eventually, he became the chief operating officer under then president and CEO Rick Jacobsen.

In 2006 following Jacobsen’s retirement, Smith became the sixth CEO of NORPAC.

NORPAC Stayton employs 250 full-time employees and about 700 seasonal harvest-time employees, Smith said of the food plant that successfully competes in a global food supply business.

NORPAC also supports local schools and charities, and Smith credits the Stayton community for encouraging the company’s community outreach.

“I must emphasize what a huge thing this is for any business, to be supported by the community it is located in,” he said. “We thank the Stayton community for that.”

NORPAC recently closed its sales office in Lake Oswego and moved those employees and Stayton’s corporate-management personnel into a consolidated corporate headquarters in Salem, Smith said.

“The consolidation was aimed at creating synergies and efficiencies of these corporate functions to better serve the business,” Smith said. “The Stayton plant management, Research and Development, Technical Services, and Agricultural Services departments remain in Stayton.

“While being in Salem is good, I miss the day-to-day interaction with the Stayton community,” he added.

NORPAC recently celebrated its 90th anniversary, and Smith said, “We look forward to even greater success in the next 90 years. The Stayton plant is a very important part of our success, and will remain a very important part of our future success.”

Smith and his wife, Angela, raised five children, four of whom are now married. The couple has played an active role in the community, serving on various boards and in school fundraising events.

In his spare time, Smith enjoys playing golf, fishing reading, and playing with his eight grandchildren.

“Growing up in the Stayton area, with its close proximity to the Cascades, I enjoyed fishing, hiking, and climbing in the mountains,” Smith said. “A friend and I once hiked the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail, a 400-mile, six- week adventure!”

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