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Name and title: James W. Cavanaugh, senior vice president external affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary Age: 57 Sultan of spam: Hormel Foods Corp. manufactures and markets to retail, food-service and wholesale food operations. World famous for its spiced ham SPAM product, Hormel is also the leading domestic turkey processor and a major player in the pork market. It has branched out into the convenience, ethnic and frozen food fields, as well. Hormel’s goods are sold in all 50 states and exported to more than 40 countries. Based in Austin, Minn., since 1891, the food giant has approximately 17,000 employees. Hormel reported annual sales of $5.4 billion, placing it No. 402 on the Fortune 500. Almost half of the firm’s stock is owned by The Hormel Foundation, a charitable trust established during World War II. Day-to-day duties: Within the department, the “primary job is to manage risk,” according to Cavanaugh. A typical day for him “depends upon the circumstances.” He normally deals with strategic, tactical and administrative issues, and handles pressing legal matters. He will get involved in litigation or mediation if necessary. Hormel has not faced product recalls “in many years,” but Cavanaugh and his crisis team would respond if one occurred. He is on a company steering committee dealing with avian influenza. Hormel’s products are sold worldwide; the company operates a pair of plants in China and has several joint ventures in Asia, Europe and Australia. Accordingly, the Cavanaugh staff has familiarity with foreign laws. The GC also “makes sure that the bills get paid.” Cavanaugh maintains relationships with regulators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He is active in trade issues, and Hormel assists the agencies in shaping new and existing regulations. His philosophy is that “if we are not involved, somebody else is, so it’s good business to stay involved in critical issues.” Hormel operates 20 plants, some of which are unionized, and as a labor attorney, Cavanaugh strives to maintain good relationships with unions and employees. Immigration, he said, is “a big issue for our country as a whole.” He believes that personnel managers have been placed in untenable positions having to implement what he considers flawed and inconsistent national immigration laws. IP and Sarbanes-Oxley: His department has a lot of interest in intellectual property cases, and “rightfully, aggressively defends” its interests. Cavanaugh’s intent is to keep the firm’s U.S. trademarks clear of any SPAM-related marks, although nothing can be done about the use of the term in the context of unsolicited commercial e-mail. Cavanaugh declined to discuss specifics, but Hormel recently secured a favorable settlement of $2.5 million in a case against a competitor in which, he said, it “vigorously defended” trade secrets. It is suing another for misappropriation of trade secrets. In a suit that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, Hormel’s Unitherm subsidiary prevailed in a case concerning the development of a patent for browning precooked meats. Unitherm Food Systems Inc. v. Swift-Eckrich Inc., 781 F.2d 879, 882. According to Cavanaugh, electronic information and forensic discovery methods were crucial elements of these cases. He said that the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have made old-fashioned discovery “go the way of the horse and buggy,” and that “it’s a landmine or a goldmine.” Hormel’s legal department and its chief now focus on all aspects of record retention. Hormel was “way ahead of the learning curve” with Sarbanes-Oxley (Cavanaugh calls the act a “good development, although we won’t see the positive changes for a few years”) and New York Stock Exchange requirements. It executes a compliance “road map” that was already in place, giving it more time for strategic planning. Such planning resulted in four major acquisitions in 2005, with team member Ryan Johnson playing an active role: Farmer John’s, Lloyd’s Barbeque Co., Markland Foods and Mexican Accents. Legal team and outside counsel: There are six attorneys, including Cavanaugh, on his team. All have areas of excellence, and each is also a generalist. Although Hormel is not staffed to perform big cases internally, 65% to 70% of the legal work is done in-house. Cavanaugh ultimately makes the hiring decisions, but like everything with his group, it is a “very collaborative” process. He tends to sign on lawyers, rather than firms. Securities work is handled by Bob Rosenbaum of Dorsey & Whitney’s Minneapolis office; Tim Costello of Milwaukee’s Krukowski & Costello is used; Richard Duncan of Minneapolis’ Faegre & Benson receives antitrust assignments; and Larry Hanson gets litigation in the Hugo, Minn., office of Moore, Costello & Hart. Cavanaugh reports to President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey M. Ettinger. Route to present position: A desire to return to his Midwestern roots, and an ambition to ply his trade in a corporate environment, brought Cavanaugh to Hormel in 1982. He has been the firm’s general counsel since 2005. Cavanaugh holds a trio of degrees from the University of Notre Dame (a bachelor’s in 1971), Saint Louis University School of Law (a juris doctor in 1974) and Georgetown University (a master’s in 1978). He served four years in Vietnam with the U.S. Air Force. Personal: Cavanaugh was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, “a meatpacking town not unlike Austin.” He and his wife, Annie, are the parents of Bridget, 30; James, 28; Matthew, 27; Kevin, 24; Michael, 22; and Mark, 20. The legal honcho’s hobbies include hiking, bicycling, skiing, basketball, reading and “staying up with my children.” Cavanaugh identified two pivotal moments in his career. The first was in 1983, when he was asked to consider a focus on labor and arbitration. Hormel was soon thereafter embroiled in a strike that became national in scope. Then, in 2001, with minimal experience in the securities arena, he became corporate secretary. Ten months hence, the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations were unveiled. In both instances, Cavanaugh said, he was forced to acquire “compressed and comprehensive” expertise. Last book and movie: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Million Dollar Baby.

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