William R. Johnson is the former chairman, president and CEO of the H. J. Heinz Company, offering high quality and healthy products worldwide. With more than $10 billion in annual sales, Heinz's 50 companies have leading brands in more than 200 countries. The Heinz brand enjoys international renown and accounts for more than $3 billion in annual sales. Other well-known U.S. brands include Ore-Ida, Boston Market Homestyle Meals, T.G.I. Fridays, Classico, and Bagel Bites. Among Heinz's best-known overseas brands in addition to Heinz are, Plasmon, ABC, Wattie's, Pudliszki, Complan, and Long Fong.
Johnson joined Heinz in 1982 as General Manager - New Businesses for Heinz USA. In 1984, he was promoted to Vice President - Marketing for Ketchup, Foodservice and Sauces. He was named President and CEO of Heinz Pet Products in 1988, and assumed leadership of Star-Kist Foods, Inc., in May 1992, when the pet food business and Star-Kist were re-united. These businesses were spun off and merged with Del Monte Foods in December 2002.
In 1993, Johnson was named Senior Vice President of Heinz and joined the company's Board of Directors. His responsibilities included Heinz operations in the Asia/Pacific area, including Australia, New Zealand, China, Thailand and South Korea, in addition to the canned tuna and pet food businesses of Star-Kist Foods, Inc.
Johnson became President and Chief Operating Officer of Heinz in June 1996, and assumed the position of President and Chief Executive Officer on April 30, 1998. He was named Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer on September 12, 2000.
Prior to joining Heinz, Johnson was employed by Drackett, Ralston Purina and Anderson-Clayton. He earned his undergraduate degree from UCLA and his MBA from the University of Texas. An active supporter of community organizations, he has served as a member of the national Athena Awards committee, chaired the 2001 annual campaign for the United Way of Western Pennsylvania, and chaired numerous local events including the 2004 Pittsburgh Cultural Trust gala event. In 2006, he received the inaugural Global Visionary Award from Helen Keller International for Heinz's micronutrient program for combating childhood anemia. He also received the Marco Polo Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Chinese government on foreign business leaders, for Heinz's support of the development of the Chinese food industry.
Johnson is a member of Emerson's Board of Directors where he serves on the board's compensation committee. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Grocery Manufacturers of America and is also an active member of the University of Texas McCombs School of Business advisory council. In 2007, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas.