Johnsonville names successor after CEO announces retirement

Nick Meriggioli will retire as Johnsonville LLC CEO on Dec. 31, 2023.

Sheboygan Falls sausage manufacturer Johnsonville LLC is getting a new CEO.

Current CEO Nick Meriggioli, who has been in his role since 2015, will retire Dec. 31, 2023. Meriggioli was appointed CEO by Johnsonville’s co-owner Ralph Stayer. Stayer led the company from 1968 to 2015.

Meriggioli will be succeeded by Johnsonville’s current chief financial officer and chief operating officer, Don Fussner. His first day as CEO will be Jan. 1, 2024. Johnsonville co-owner and chairperson Shelly Stayer shared the news Thursday.

“If our culture remained a priority, high member engagement and business growth would follow. Nick has modeled that and has been a strong advocate for our Johnsonville Way culture, and we are especially grateful for his leadership,” Shelly Stayer said in a press release.

In his time leading the company, Meriggioli grew Johnsonville’s retail, food service and international business units. The company also cited his strength navigating the company safely through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meriggioli’s successor, Fussner has been with Johnsonville since 2019. He was hired as the company’s chief financial officer and earned additional chief operating officer duties in 2022. Prior to his time with Johnsonville, Fussner worked for 24 years with Kraft Foods, specifically with the Oscar Mayer business.

Don Fussner will become the new CEO of Johnsonville in 2024.

“Don is a strategic and operational leader with proven success across the entire value chain. He is a strong coach and people-focused leader who will continue to prioritize Johnsonville’s unique culture,” Stayer added.

The sausage company has a strong presence in Milwaukee. Most recently, Johnsonville announced a new sponsorship deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, being the official sausage of the team and Fiserv Forum.

Back in 2018, Johnsonville formed a partnership with the Milwaukee Brewers, which included renaming the popular racing sausages. In February 2023, the company became a new sponsor of Summerfest, which featured the naming rights to the Johnsonville Summerville stage on the north end of Henry Maier Festival Park.

Margaret Naczek, Milwaukee Business Journal

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