Jim Heeter, new chamber head, talks about pasta and fraud

Jim Heeter, a lawyer and former city councilman, will bring an interesting perspective to his new position as the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive. He was on the board of a company that, for a time, suffered under exceptionally shitty management.

Heeter is a member of the board of directors at American Italian Pasta. He and the company’s founder, Richard Thompson, go way back. Heeter was Thompson’s lawyer when, in 1991, the U.S. Justice Department nixed a sale of the company, which Thompson started from nothing, to Hershey Foods out of fear the pasta market would become too concentrated.

A short time later, Thompson turned over the company to professional managers. Those men are now in federal prison.

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