Former Bob Evans Farms, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Evans passed away on Christmas Eve, 2010 at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The 74-year-old Evans retired as chief executive officer on April 29, 2000, and as chairman of the board on April 27, 2001, after serving in those roles for 29 and 30 years, respectively. He had continued to serve on the Bob Evans Farms, Inc. Board of Directors until his retirement in August 2006. Throughout his retirement he and his wife Temmy were able to pursue their love of riding cutting horses from their homes in both Ohio and Arizona, while competing throughout the United States.
Dan Evans was a country gentleman with a by-the-bootstraps work ethic whose leadership oversaw the building of Bob Evans Farms to a company with nearly 40,000 employees and a billion dollars in sales. But even more than the successful statistics he generated at Bob Evans, Dan is known for something more important – his pride in his work and his love for those with whom he worked.
“I don’t think I know a man who loved his job more than Dan loved his. He loved the employees, the customers and the business,” said Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Steve Davis. “He helped build Bob Evans Farms into a great company – a household name. He was a great businessman and he has left a wonderful legacy. Along with the entire Bob Evans Farms family, I am committed to carrying on that legacy.”
When Dan Evans died he left a legacy of strong work ethic and willingness to do what it took to get the job done. A man who would get up before sunrise at his farm to get to the office by 6 a.m., he was also willing to relinquish some control to his management groups for the benefit of the company. His leadership produced a $6 million turnaround in earnings in 1991 after he decided to grant more autonomy to his management team. “When you let smart people chase their ideas and take ownership of a project, great things can happen,” Dan said.
Under the exterior of the cowboy boots and string tie was a man with a great deal of business savvy, who began hanging around his family’s meat packing plant at the age of seven. He started working for Bob Evans Farms in 1956, when for $1.60 an hour, he spent half his day on the “kill floor” and the other half on the processing machines of the company’s sausage plant in Xenia, Ohio. Though he was always interested in the area of management, he didn’t hesitate to “pay his dues” and learn the sausage business from the ground up.
After three years, he became assistant plant manager and before long he moved to the Bidwell plant as its manager. There, he oversaw 18 employees, the youngest of whom was about twice his age. Dan introduced incentive plans at the plant that soon had the Bidwell plant out-producing the Xenia plant.
Dan learned more about management when he took charge of setting up the company’s third production facility in Hillsdale, Mich., in 1963. The whole project, from buying the land to designing and building the plant, to its operations, was under Dan’s management. “That was a lot of fun. I loved it,” Dan said of that period. Throughout the early years of Bob Evans Farms, Dan bought stock in the company whenever he could. “I had a vision this company was going to be big one day,” he said, and he wanted to be part of it.
Dan moved to Columbus, Ohio, as executive vice president of the company in 1969. He was elected to chairman of the board and chief executive officer in 1971 at the age of 35. Dan Evans succeeded his father, Emerson Evans, the company’s founding board chairman and chief executive officer.
A memorial service to honor former Bob Evans Farms, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Evans will be held Thursday, December 30 at 2 p.m. at the Meadow Park Church of God, 2425 Bethel Road, Columbus, Ohio 43220. The public is invited to attend. Refreshments will follow. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to CS Cutters (The Dan Evans Class), PO Box 23 Canal Winchester, Ohio, 43110 or the Meadow Park Church of God Scholarship Fund, 2525 Bethel Road, Columbus, Ohio 43220.
In observance of the passing of former CEO and Chairman, Dan Evans, and upon approval of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Bob Evans Farms, Inc. company buildings will fly the flag at half-staff this Thursday, December 30, 2010.