Pittsburgh based StarKist announces interim president


Pittsburgh-Based StarKist Co., owner of StarKist Samoa cannery in Pago Pago, has a new leader, who will take over the post effective Thursday this week.

In a company announcement yesterday, StarKist said Sam Hwi Lee, a StarKist board director has been named interim president of the company upon the accepted resignation of In-Soo Cho, the outgoing company president and chief executive officer.

Cho, who joined StarKist in early March last year, “is moving on to pursue new opportunities,” according to the announcement. It’s understood that Cho’s last day is today.

Lee is the former president of Nestle Korea and has held executive posts with Dole Food Co. and Armour Foods. He will be be based in company headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa.

StarKist and StarKist Samoa are owned by South Korean conglomerate Dongwon group, who will initiate a search for a permanent successor.

StarKist corporate spokesperson Michelle Faist told Samoa News that StarKist Samoa general manager Brett Butler and his team have been informed about the change. There was no  mention of any possible changes to StarKist Samoa’s operations or management team as a result of the change or resignation.

Faist also said that the American Samoa Government officials are being updated about this news as well.

StarKist Samoa employs some 2,000 workers and is currently working on a project to build a large cold storage facility in the town area.

Cho has visited American Samoa at least twice during his tenure and the last time he visited was December of last year, when the the StarKist board and officials of Dongwon were in Pago Pago for a StarKist board meeting.

While on island the officials met with local leaders as well as a holding a news conference emphasizing the importance of continuous collaborative efforts between the two companies (Dongwon and StarKist) and the territorial government as well as the local community in order for American Samoa to be more competitive in the global tuna processing industry.

During his first visit in late March last year to the territory, Cho told reporters that he is “very impressed with the Fa’aSamoa.”

“The hospitality and the respect and the smile of Samoan people is really something very impressive and I am very pleased to visit here,” said Cho at the time. 

“StarKist has been in American Samoa for 48 years. I’ve told this to our employees and the governor as well — StarKist is more Samoan than anything else,” he said.


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