Ron Gustafson, a third-generation family member actively involved with Coast Packing Company, is President and Chairman of the Board. Gustafson was responsible for rebuilding the family business into the number one supplier of animal fat shortenings in the Western United States. Under his leadership and strategic direction, he built the executive and management team, improved the company’s facilities, and modernized production, enabling the business to continue to thrive for future generations.
Gustafson first worked at Coast during the summer of 1955 at the age of 12. His initial job involved packaging bacon for retail and supermarket chains. He fondly recalls his first pay raise negotiation with his grandfather and Coast’s founder, Anton Rieder. The result was an increase from $1.00 to $1.10 per day — with Mr. Rieder reminding him it was a 10 percent raise.
Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Technology from California State University, Los Angeles, and a secondary teaching credential from the State of California in 1968. After two years in the U. S. Army, he rejoined the company full-time in October 1970 and received his MBA from Pepperdine University in 1982. Gustafson was a CAP mentor at the USC Marshall School of Business for 18 years.
A member of the American Oil Chemist Society and the Institute of Food Technologists, Gustafson was for 18 years a director of WSMA and NMA, the predecessor trade association of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). He chaired numerous committees, including long-range strategic planning, membership and education. Today, he serves as Emeritus Director of the NAMI Scholarship Foundation, which provides monetary awards to undergraduate students majoring in the animal, meat and food science plus culinary arts. In August 2018, NAMI established the Ron Gustafson Scholarship in his honor.
Gustafson’s interests include philanthropy, collecting Western American historic books and maps, and classical music. He is treasurer of three organizations – the Jonathan Heritage Foundation, the Los Angeles Railroad Historical Foundation and the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society. Formerly treasurer for the Neighborhood Music School in Boyle Heights, he currently serves as a board member of the Finance Committee. He enjoys spending time with his wife, children and six grandchildren.