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• Two changes at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) were announced yesterday, part of what appear to be more sweeping changes at the trade association related to the impending retirement of CEO Tim Hammonds.

Brian Tully, the organization’s senior vice president who has run the annual convention, has resigned to pursue other opportunities.

Another senior vice president, Karen Brown, who has run FMI’s communications operation, is retiring effective January 1, 2009.

Michael Sansolo resigned from his senior vice president’s position at FMI more than a year ago. (He joined MNB as a contributing columnist, and works with MNB Content Guy Kevin Coupe on a number of initiatives. So in our view, it was a step up.)

A search committee reportedly is nearing the end of the process that will name a replacement for Hammonds, who remains in his position pending the naming of a successor.
KC's View:
In some ways, this probably all seems like “inside the Beltway” stuff that a lot of people feel that is irrelevant to their daily lives and business operations.

This may be true. But I have several thoughts anyway.

One is that if had a dollar for every person who told me they knew who was on the short list for the CEO job at FMI, I could take Mrs. Content Guy out to dinner. Not an expensive dinner, but dinner. What’s really interesting is that few of these sort lists have the same people on them – and almost all of the lists include one person who, I am reliably told, is actually not on the list. (To be fair, I may be as misinformed as everybody else.)

Second, I am told by a number of people that there is at least some discussion taking place at FMI and at the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which also is looking for a new CEO, to see if this is a unique point in time at which they together can realign and reorganize themselves. But while the discussions are taking place, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of confidence that anything profound will or should happen.

Finally, it would be my opinion that as the names and bodies change, there better be some consideration of how the mission, message and mode of operation at FMI must change to reflect the realities of the 21st century.