John Polychron


  • Born 1936 and raised in Valley Stream, LI, NY
  • Graduated from VS Central High School 1954
  • Graduated from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania 1958

Work History

  • Proctor & Gamble as a salesman for Queens County, New York – 1958
  • Thomas J Lipton Company,  Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey as the Assistant Export Manager – 1962
  • Took over the Export, Food Service, and Government Sales Departments and later became Director of Sales for the U.S. Continental Division
    • Initiated and oversaw the establishment of Lipton Dry Soup plants in Panama and Ecuador
  • MBA from NYU – Evening classes in New York while employed by Lipton – 1968
  • Recruited by Consolidated Foods as CEO of Popsicle Industries in Englewood, NJ – 1972

The company licensed the manufacture of Popsicle brand frozen novelties to independent ice cream companies in the U.S. and Canada. Popsicle manufactured flavor concentrates at its plants in the U.S. and Canada to be sold to its licensees. The company was also responsible for the operation of the Delson Candy Company and Sedutto Ice Cream Company.

Coming to RJR

Recruited by RJR Tobacco International to be the CEO of RJR Tobacos do Brasil – 1979.

Memorable Events at RJR

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro. The company had two cigarette plants producing brands such as Vila Rica, LS, Mustang, and Camel. RJR had a market share of 11%, Phillip Morris 10%, and Souza Cruz (BAT) 79% which it jealously protected. BAT could have increased its market share but held it at 80%, in my opinion, to avoid becoming seen as an absolute monopoly and exposing itself to government domination and paying higher sales tax rates. RJR was never profitable, but by 1985 it was operating on a cash positive basis, and it did not have to plead with RJR for annual cash infusions.

One of my accomplishments was an analysis I had prepared that showed the government that by reducing the industry sales tax rate on cigarettes it would actually increase the governments tax revenue haul. The tax rate was cut.

I was elected president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Rio.

I transferred back to the U.S. as CEO of Del Monte Fresh Fruit Company –  1985.

Headquartered in Miami, Florida, The business was subject to the vagaries of agricultural commodity markets, but it was profitable. RJR Nabisco’s push for a greater U.S. market share for bananas was shortsighted and foolish. To achieve this would have meant price cutting, profit cutting, and diverting bananas from more profitable markets such as Italy and Germany. I ignored the “grow share“ mandate! The company operated banana and pineapple plantations in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hawaii, and the Philippines.

I engineered a deal with Cameroon to take over and operate its broken banana operation. This gave us a first time entry to the French and British markets which, despite EU rules, had limited market access only to former and current colonies. Costa Rica and Guatemala did not qualify.

I was moved to planters Lifesavers as CEO – 1987.

Leaving RJR

I left the company in 1989 for an early retirement after the KKR buyout.

After RJR

After that I bought Taylorcraft Aircraft Company in Lockhaven, Pennsylvania and sold it a couple years later. Then to keep busy for a while, I bought and then later sold the Piedmont Aviation Flight School in Winston-Salem.

Now I am just a vagabond with no visible means of support except winnings from golf, gin rummy and bridge.

John Polychron and I did not meet while we were at RJR.  Mutual friends introduced us and I have gotten to know him as a capable executive who was obviously skilled in managing a number of consumer goods operations.

John and his wife Adrienne live in Winston-Salem.  GAH