PLYMOUTH, WIS. – With two long term executives retiring from Sargento, the cheese maker announced June 27 that Michael Pellegrino was named the company’s new chief operating officer.

Sargento shared that third generation family owner Mike McEvoy is retiring from his role as executive vice president of operations and Kristi Jankowski is retiring from her position as executive vice president of innovation.

The company noted that McEvoy and Jankowski, who have more than 50 years of combined experience at Sargento, will stay on as advisors to the senior leadership team through the end of 2024.

Chief executive officer Louie Gentine said the company and its employees are grateful for the years of service the retiring leaders provided.

"We also look forward to a successful road ahead with Michael Pellegrino as our chief operating officer,” Gentine added. “Based on his proven track record, we know he will deliver against our ambitious growth plan while realizing our vision to the most innovative, best-loved real food company."

Pellegrino first joined the family-owned cheese manufacturer in 2009, and most recently served as president and chief growth officer. Per Sargento, in his new COO capacity, he will lead the company’s business units, operations, innovation, sales, supply chain and strategic planning.

Sargento credited Pellegrino and his team in his previous position for accelerating the brand’s growth and helping it become a national market-share leader in retail cheese. The company said he also led integrated marketing campaigns “that have made Sargento one of the most recognized brands in the dairy case.”

A contributor to the company since 1997, McEvoy’s years at Sargento have included time as trade promotion manager, marketing manager, vice president of sales, president of food ingredients, and his most recent leadership position for operations, which he first took on in 2013. Sargento said that during McEvoy’s more than 25 years with the company he has overseen $600 million-plus in capital expansions.

Jankowski’s involvement at Sargento also spans more than two decades. She first joined the company in 1999 and spent the previous 14 years leading as the executive vice president of innovation. Sargento shared that during her tenure, Jankowski and her team generated nearly $3 billion in revenue and enhanced the company’s reputation for innovating. Among her team’s product creations, Sargento Ultra-Thin Slices natural cheese, Sargento Balanced Breaks and Sargento Balanced Breaks Cheese & Crackers earned Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation awards.

Additionally, the company said Jankowski led Sargento’s Idea Center, which allows employees to share ideas that aid in the development of intellectual property. Sargento noted the program led to “numerous patents and trade secrets,” and made it possible to develop key technical capabilities.