Distinguished AgEcon Alumni

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Eric A. Brown

B.S., Agribusiness Management,
1968 Group Vice President – Prepared Foods Hormel Foods Corporation

Brown PhotoSerendipitous Paths

Sometimes, journeys in the right direction unfold a map for life – particularly when 4-H is your compass and dad is your navigator.

Such was the combination that led Eric Brown to his career in Austin, Minnesota, with Hormel Foods Corporation. Growing up on the family farm just north of Lafayette, Brown raised purebred hogs as a youngster and was a 12-year 4-H member. He and his dad traveled annually to state fairs and national shows, including Austin's National Barrow Show, sponsored by Hormel.

" After graduation, I sent letters to about 50 different food companies, including Hormel," Brown recalls. "As we progressed with interviews, I felt I already knew the company. It all came together and was a good choice for me, based on my understanding of raising hogs."

Brown also offered his employer keen senses of history and stability. His great-great-grandfather, Peter O. Brown, moved from Chillicothe, Ohio, to Tippecanoe County in 1829 and settled the family's original farm. Brown recalls that as a child he found arrowheads in the fields, and that he heard stories about Peter Brown's father-in-law, who was killed by area Indians. He remembers hearing how neighbors' homes were moved when Highway 43 went from dirt road to blacktop, and of the horses used to grade the county's first highways.

" My family's stories gave me strong roots," Brown says, "and my farm experiences led to a strong work ethic. I learned what it takes to raise food."

Today, the family farm has grown to 5,500 tillable acres and is co-owned by the three Brown brothers. Known as Tip Top Farms, it includes the original 160 acres homesteaded by Peter Brown. In addition to anchoring the Brown family, these historic acres also have cultivated serendipitous paths for their caretakers: Brown joins his father, Donald, grandfather Wilbur Brown, and brother Bruce Brown in a distinguished line of Purdue graduates.

1968 B.S., Agriculture Business Management, Purdue University
1968-70 U.S. Army Infantry
1971 MBA, Marketing, Ohio State University
1971 Sales Representative, Hormel Foods Corp.
1986 Director of Sales, Hormel Foods
1987 Vice President, Hormel Foods
1993 Senior Vice President, Hormel Foods
1997 Group Vice President, Hormel Foods
1997 Elected to Hormel Foods Board of Directors

“ Dad wasn’t a wealthy man, but he told me I could go to any college I wanted, as long as I spent my first two years at Purdue. He knew it was such a strong school that I wouldn’t look anywhere else.”


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