Dairy Farmers of America is set for a change in CEO, with the head of its ingredients business promoted to the top job at the US co-op.

Dennis Rodenbaugh, president for council operations and ingredients solutions at DFA, will succeed long-time CEO Rick Smith at the end of next year.

Smith has been at the helm since 2006, joining DFA from the then Dairylea Cooperative. Eight years later, Dairylea merged with DFA, one of a number of corporate moves under Smith’s stewardship.

Last year, the co-op acquired a chunk of the assets of bankrupt US dairy major Dean Foods. According to Netherlands-based financial services group Rabobank, which publishes an annual list of the world’s largest dairy businesses by revenue, DFA ranked third in 2020, behind Nestlé in second and Lactalis in first.

Rodenbaugh joined DFA in 2007. His career at the company includes stints heading up the co-op’s operations in the west of the US and in mid-eastern States.

DFA board chairman Randy Mooney said: “Rick is an iconic and dynamic leader who has been instrumental in transforming DFA’s culture and business, and we will be forever grateful to him for his tremendous leadership and are proud of where we are today. In Dennis, we have a strategic leader who has a deep understanding of our family farm-owners, a strong vision for the future of DFA and a proven ability to lead.”

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In 2020, DFA grew its net sales and net income, results the company said “primarily” came from the Dean Foods deal.

Net sales totalled US$17.8bn, up from $15.8bn in 2019. The co-op’s net income, excluding non-recurring items, was $170.6m for 2020, compared to $83.2m a year earlier.