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J.R. Simplot Co. To Remain Unchanged

After the death of its founder, the J.R. Simplot Co., best known for providing McDonald’s with its frozen French fries, will continue as a family owned agricultural company, said his son.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- After the death of its founder, the J.R. Simplot Co. will continue as a family owned agricultural company with no anticipated changes, said Scott R. Simplot.

''It would be a surprise to me if we change anything,'' Simplot, the company chairman and J.R. Simplot's son, told the Idaho Statesman. ''What opportunities walk in the door six months from now, it's impossible to know. But there isn't something in the hopper that's about to jump out.''

J.R. Simplot, a billionaire best known for providing McDonald's Corp. with its frozen french fries, died Sunday at his Boise home at age 99.

His businesses manufacture agriculture, horticulture and turf fertilizers; animal feed and seeds; food products such as fruits, potatoes and other vegetables; and industrial chemicals and irrigation products. Simplot also invested heavily in computer chip manufacturer Micron Technology Inc.

J.R. Simplot and his family were ranked in 2007 at No. 89 on Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans, with an estimated wealth of $3.6 billion.

When he was 85 in 1994, J.R. Simplot stepped down as company chairman.

The 10-member Simplot Co. board includes a five-person executive committee, four of whom are Simplot family members: Scott and his sister, Gay, and two of J.R. Simplot's grandchildren, Debbie McDonald and John E. ''Ted'' Simplot.

President and CEO Larry Hlobik, the chief executive officer since 2002, is the fifth member.

J.R. Simplot refused to take the company public because he didn't want to answer to shareholders. With 3,500 workers, it is one of Idaho's biggest private employers.

''It's going to stay a private company,'' Scott Simplot said, adding, ''We're an Idaho-based company, and we're staying right here.''

After World War II, the company's food production business expanded into freezing and canning, developing the product that would become the company's mainstay: the frozen french fry.

J.R. Simplot struck a deal with McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, and his fry business grew with Americans' love for fast food.
The company operates potato-processing plants in Nampa, Caldwell, Aberdeen and Pocatello. It has a feedlot in Grand View, a seed-production plant in Post Falls, a fertilizer plant in Pocatello, and livestock feed production plants in Caldwell and Burley.

There are also 16 Simplot Grower Solutions stores in Idaho that sell seed and fertilizer, rent farm equipment and offer other goods and services.

In Burley, Jerome and Caldwell, it operates Western Stockmen's stores.

The company also owns 15 ranches in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah. Simplot's 273,246 deeded acres and 2,327,568 acres of public land cover about twice as much land area as Delaware.

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