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Geno Valdes returns to Sunburst Farms

by | July 20, 2009
Geno Valdes, president of Sunburst Farms 10 years ago, has returned to the Miami-based floral company, again as its president.

"I'm excited to be back and to work with so many good employees who were here when I left and know what it takes to achieve success in this industry," he told The Produce News.

Mr. Valdes left the floral industry to become executive vice president of FreshPoint, a Sysco Corp. subsidiary selling specialty produce in central Florida. He returned to the floral industry, briefly serving as vice president of purchasing for 1-800 Flowers "until Mario Nannetti and his family bought Sunburst Farms and invited me back," he said.

Mr. Nannetti bought Dole Fresh Flowers (The Produce News, April 6, page F-8), creating one of the larger flower-growing operations in the Americas, and named it Sunburst Farms, which was one of the more recognized industry brands bought by Dole when it entered the flower business a decade ago.

In his new role, Mr. Valdes plans to conduct more market research and spend more time in supermarkets. "We need to walk their stores with them and see their challenges and opportunities first hand," he said. "I learned a lot about market research at 1-800. They are good at it."

He hopes to share research on consumer attitudes with supermarkets. "I am customer-focused rather than production-focused," he said. "We at Sunburst Farms need to find out what supermarkets want and provide that value."

Mr. Valdes, 52, likes pickup basketball games and books on leadership. He and his wife of 26 years, Alina, have 21-year-old twins, Eric and Christina.