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Katherine McDaniel, CEO of McDaniel Fruit, retires

by Rand Green | June 21, 2009
McDaniel Fruit Co. in Fallbrook, CA, has announced the official retirement of Katherine M. McDaniel, the company's chief executive officer and co-founder.

Rankin H. McDaniel, president of McDaniel Fruit, told The Produce News June 16 that his father and mother founded McDaniel Fruit Co. in 1957 and that his mother "has been working here with the company since that time."

The roots of McDaniel Fruit go back a decade earlier, however. The company's founders first got into the avocado business as growers in 1946 when they bought their first grove in Vista, CA. From then through 1956, "they were just growers, and they sold to local packers," Mr. McDaniel said.

His father's name was Rankin McDaniel Jr. (not to be confused with Mr. McDaniel's son, Rankin (Junior) McDaniel, who works in sales with the company). Also, Mr. McDaniel, although actually the third generation to bear the Rankin name, is now referred to as Rankin McDaniel Sr.

"In 1956, my father and my mother decided they wanted to take a step and get into the packing and distribution of avocados," Mr. McDaniel said. McDaniel Fruit Co. was formed and began operating in 1957.

After Mr. McDaniel's father died in 1970, the major responsibility for running the company fell upon the next generation, with Mr. McDaniel as president. But his mother continued to be active in the business. In fact, she has been involved in "just about all aspects of the business over the years," Mr. McDaniel said. "In the beginning, when they packed their first two boxes, she packed them," and when she retired 52 years later, "her title was CEO."

Even though now officially retired, "she still comes to the office once or twice a week to work on various projects that she wants to get involved in," he said.