Oakhurst Dairy lays out leadership plans

Oakhurst Dairy in Portland has unveiled planned changes in top leadership, to be put into place next month following a board of directors meeting.

According to a Thursday release, President and CEO William Bennett plans to transition from day-to-day operations at the family-owned dairy while maintaining “an active role” in company management as chairman of the board.

Current Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Bennett, the third brother in the third generation of the family, and Thomas Brigham, current executive VP and chief financial officer, will be named co-presidents, according to the release.

This is the first time a non-Bennett family member has been named president at the dairy.

“Our family could not be more pleased to elevate Tom Brigham to the role of co-president. Tom is a highly trusted and valued colleague who has been a member of the Oakhurst senior leadership team for more than 16 years,” said John Bennett. “Together, we bring a collective strength and expertise that will allow us to continue to take the company forward.”

Oakhurst Dairy's John Bennett, left, and Thomas Brigham


As co-presidents, John Bennett and Brigham will both oversee the operations and actions of Oakhurst Dairy. John Bennett will have direct responsibility for the company’s production, quality, logistics and IT functions. Tom Brigham will have direct responsibility for the sales, marketing, accounting, financial and administrative areas of the business.

“This new collaborative leadership structure, while different from our past governance approach, will allow us to leverage the unique skills of both individuals and make Oakhurst even stronger,” said William Bennett in the release “We will have two individuals, each with deep industry experience, including nearly 25 years collectively leading the dairy. We are confident that this decision will position Oakhurst for the future and allow us to continue to deliver the quality products we’re known for while serving our community.”

For 90 years and three generations, the Bennett family has owned, managed and operated Oakhurst Dairy. Over the last year, following the death of Stanley T. Bennett, II, who served as president and CEO for nearly 30 years, brothers Bill and John Bennett have worked closely together to run the company.

John Bennett joined the dairy in 2004 as VP of sales and marketing after owning and operating Port Quality Shellfish in Portland. He sold the business to Preble Seafood of Kennebunk in 1998, and continued to work for the company until he joined the dairy in 2003.

Brigham brings more than 25 years of senior financial management experience in food-related businesses and has been responsible for all accounting and finance functions at Oakhurst since joining the company in 1995.

“I’m honored by the family’s confidence in me to help serve in this leadership capacity,” said Brigham in the release. “I know John and I will make a great team.”