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Ron Doggett Named NC State Poole College 2018 Person of the Year

Ron Doggett, photo by Robert Willett
Ron Doggett, photo by Robert Willett

Ron Doggett, retired chairman, president and chief executive officer of GoodMark Foods, Inc., has been named the 2018 Person of the Year by the NC State University Poole College of Management.

The college established this award in 2008 to recognize distinguished individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their careers and their impactful contributions to the college and to the greater community.

“Throughout his career, Ron has exemplified values that are aligned with those of the Poole College of Management, including an entrepreneurial mindset and a commitment to excellence, coupled with creative problem-solving and ethical decision-making,” said Frank Buckless, Poole College interim dean, professor of accounting and the Matthew and Ruth Keen Faculty Fellow.

“The college has benefited from the insight he has provided as a member of our Board of Advisors, and our students benefited through his service as an executive-in-residence who was available to help them think through challenging projects,” Buckless said.

Doggett reflects on his approach to life and business – with his typical sense of humor – in his autobiography, “Doggett Determination,” published in 2014. The book show a path that may be familiar to many Poole College students: growing up in a farming family, the first in his family to go to college, military service and attending college with support of the U.S. GI Bill for veterans.

He overcame early career obstacles that strengthened his determination to succeed in business. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again would become a repetitive theme and my approach throughout my life, particularly when I felt passionate about something,” Doggett wrote in his book.

That “Doggett Determination” brought Doggett, his wife, Jeanette, and their children to Raleigh, where he served as chief executive officer of GoodMark, a General Mills company that manufactured the snack food Slim Jim. Years later, it also led him, along with several partners, to mount a management buy-out of the company after General Mills announced it would be selling GoodMark.

I feel compelled to serve my community and help develop the next generation of business leaders.
–Ron Doggett

Doggett writes that he was concerned about what would happen to the company’s “loyal and hardworking team.” He also viewed it as “the professional opportunity of a lifetime” to lead a company the way he wanted to lead.

Doggett and his partners completed the purchase in May 1982, for $31.5 million. Ten years later, Forbes Magazine ranked GoodMark 11th among the best 100 small companies in America. In 1998, Doggett and his partners sold it to ConAgra for nearly $240 million.

In his book, Doggett also speaks of empathy and giving back. “I feel compelled to serve my community and help develop the next generation of business leaders,” he wrote. He also wrote that he wanted their four children to “inherit not only a portion of their wealth, but also a large dose of their passion for philanthropy.”

That passion has led the Doggetts to provide support to the NC State Poole College of Management; Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C.; Catholic Parish Outreach; Habitat for Humanity; the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina; WakeMed; and Hospice of Wake County (now Transitions LifeCare).

Doggett has been honored for his philanthropy and business acumen several times, including being named Raleigh Philanthropist of the Year and receiving the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1999, the North Carolina Hall of Fame business award in 2004, the Bishop F. Grossman Community Service Award from the Diocese of Raleigh’s Catholic Charities in 2013, and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce A.E. Finley Distinguished Service Award in 2014. Business awards include Inc Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Manufacturing, in 1993 and the Greater Raleigh Entrepreneurial Award from the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce in 1994.

Poole College Person of the Year Honorees

2018 | Ron Doggett, retired chairman, president and chief executive officer of GoodMark Foods, Inc.

2017 | Hampton Pitts, partner and chief operating officer for LStar Management, LStar Communities

2016 | Russ and Cara McLauchlan, founder, former CEO, executive chairman, Calvert Holdings

2015 | G. Smedes York, chairman, York Properties/McDonald York

2014 | Jon Bartley, Professor Emeritus, Department of Accounting, Former Dean & Associate Dean, Poole College of Management

2013 | Henry Campen, partner, Parker Poe Bernstein and Adams

2012 | Michael Constantino, assurance partner, EY

2011 | Lonnie Poole, founder, Waste Industries (retired), benefactor, NC State Poole College of Management

2010 | Steve Zelnak, chairman and chief executive officer, Martin Marietta Materials (retired)

2009 | James Owens, chairman and chief executive officer, Caterpillar (retired)

2008 | Benjamin P. Jenkins, III, Wachovia (retired)