Senior Vice President Howard Coker will lead Sonoco as its new president and chief executive officer effective immediately, the company announced Monday.
He will succeed Robert C. Tiede, 61, who has elected to retire from Sonoco after serving as president and CEO since April 2018.
A Hartsville native, Coker, 57, has been with Sonoco since 1985. He comes to the company’s top position after serving as senior vice president for Sonoco’s Paper/Industrial Converted Products segment.
Sonoco’s board elected Coker unanimously. Coker also replaces Tiede on the board.
“Howard’s strong operating acumen, along with his passion for Sonoco, has played a significant role in the development of our global Industrial and Consumer businesses over his 35-year career,” said James M. Micali, lead independent director of Sonoco’s board. “He has built an outstanding track record of growth and improved business performance and is an authentic leader, who is driven by Sonoco’s core values. He is well positioned to lead Sonoco into the next decade.”
Coker said he is honored by the confidence the board has shown him, and he embraces this opportunity.
“I grew up in this company, so I am deeply connected to Sonoco, its culture and all the people who have helped build it into what it is today,” Coker said. “I look forward to working with our strong leadership team, alongside our 23,000 associates globally, to build Sonoco into an even greater company to the benefit of our shareholders, our people and our communities.”
Tiede became Sonoco’s CEO in April 2018 after serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer from 2016, in addition to holding other senior leadership roles throughout his career with the organization.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my career with Sonoco, from running several consumer businesses to working on key acquisitions,” Tiede said. “I am proud to have been part of building the company to where it is today.”
Tiede said he wants to wish the Sonoco team, and especially Coker, all of the success in the future.
“We are grateful to Rob for his many contributions to Sonoco over his 20-year career and wish him all the best in retirement,” Micali said.
Coker has held a number of senior leadership positions in Sonoco businesses serving consumer and industrial markets.
He has served as Sonoco senior vice president, Global Paper/Industrial Converted Products, where he led all of the company’s industrial-related business, including Industrial Europe/Australia/New Zealand; Tubes and Cores, U.S. and Canada; Paper/Adhesives, U.S. and Canada; Sonoco Recycling; Conitex/Asia; Reels; and Industrial Latin America and Brazil.
He previously served as senior vice president, Rigid Paper Containers and Paper/Engineered Carriers International, where he had responsibility for the company’s global paperboard can operations in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, as well as paper, tube and core operations in Europe, Latin America and Australasia.
Coker also served as group vice president, Global Rigid Paper and Closures and Paper/Industrial Converted Products, EMEA, Asia, Australia and New Zealand; group vice president, Global Rigid Paper and Plastics; vice president, Rigid Paper and Closures; and vice president and general manager, Rigid Paper and Closures.
Coker is a 1985 graduate of Wofford College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and received a Master of Business Administration degree from Wake Forest University in 1990. He is married, has three children and resides in Hartsville.
Sonoco, founded in 1899, is a global provider of a variety of consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging and displays and packaging supply chain services. With annualized net sales $5.4 billion, the company has 23,000 employees working in 300 operations in 36 countries, serving some of the world’s best-known brands in some 85 nations.