Hilmar Cheese Co.’s only CEO retires after 31 years

Twelve dairy farmers asked John Jeter in 1984 to research their idea for a cheese plant.

“This was designed to be a tiny thing,” Jeter recalled last week about the plans for Hilmar Cheese Co.

Tiny it’s not. The Lander Avenue plant has grown to be the biggest in the world, with Jeter in the top post from the start. He will retire Monday after 31 years that included building a second plant in Texas and becoming a major global player in cheese byproducts.

David Ahlem, 41, who has been chief operating officer, will succeed Jeter, 63, as chief executive officer. He is the son of Chuck Ahlem, one of the founding farmers. …

DAVID AHLEM

Age: 41

Occupation: CEO at Hilmar Cheese Co. starting Monday

Education: Bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Westmont College in Santa Barbara; master’s in business administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Read more

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