Bill O. Mead and Connie B. Lane were chairman, CEO and president of The Earthgrains Co. (previously Campbell Taggart, Inc. and today part of Bimbo Bakeries USA), Dallas, Texas. Their paths into bakery leadership differed, but together they formed a powerful team that built the second largest bakery in the U.S. during the 1980s.
Mr. Mead (1919-2006) started after high school as a bread route salesman for the Abilene, Texas bakery owned by his father and uncle. In 1941, he formed his own bakery, Mead’s Fine Bread, in Lubbock, Texas, adding three other bakery locations in New Mexico and a frozen dough factory in Abilene. In 1959, he merged that business with Campbell Taggart, and a few years later, he became chairman and CEO of the company.
Mr. Lane (1924-2000), an Army veteran and graduate of Texas A&M University, joined the Campbell Taggart accounting department in 1947. An expert in cost controls, he rose through the ranks to be named controller in 1956 and vice-president, treasurer and CFO in 1965. He was elected president in 1982.
They were the first to apply computer analysis to cost controls, bakery efficiency and organizational structure. The executives invested substantially in new technology to open new markets, specifically taking pan variety bread to national distribution. They foresaw the promise of whole grain breads, ultimately renaming the company after the brand of its market-leading products, Earth Grains.
During the Mead-Lane era, the company grew to more than 60 U.S. operating plants, seven bakeries in Spain and related businesses in Puerto Rico, France and Brazil. After overseeing the merger of Campbell Taggart with Anheuser Busch, Mr. Mead retired in 1983. Mr. Lane succeeded him as chairman and CEO until his retirement in 1987.
Both men provided leadership to industry groups including the American Bakers Association and the American Institute of Baking. They encouraged their associates to participate as speakers and officers of the American Society of Baking.
Their families describe them as proud Texans and leaders in their home and church communities. Mr. Mead served on numerous bank boards, on the White House Restoration Committee during the Carter Administration, was president and board member of the Billy Graham Association Foundation and helped found Christian Men, Inc. Mr. Lane served on a number of bank boards, and those of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, of Texas A&M University and the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.
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