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Driskill to leave FPAA, return to Meyer LLC

by Rand Green | October 15, 2009
Jesse Driskill, who in March 2008 was named president for the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas in Nogales, AZ, announced his resignation in order to take a position with Meyer LLC in Nogales, effective Nov. 16, immediately following the FPAA convention.

"We wish him well. It is a great opportunity for him," Chris Ciruli, FPAA chairman and chief operating officer of Ciruli Bros. Inc. in Nogales, told The Produce News Oct. 16.

Mr. Driskill was out of the office and was not immediately available for comment.

Meyer LLC is a long-standing member of the association, so even though Mr. Driskill is resigning as president, he is still a member and going to be doing quite a bit with us, said Mr. Ciruli. It will make the transition a lot easier & that Jesse isn't leaving town. Any questions we have & he will still be right around the corner. He has stated as well that he would do whatever he could to make it a smooth transition.

Mr. Driskills departure puts us in a position where we are out looking to bring someone else in for that job, Mr. Ciruli said. However, we are certainly in no hurry. We want to make the right choice. The association has an experienced staff in place that has been there for quite a while and that has previously worked in an interim situation without a president before Mr. Driskill was hired.

Allison Moore, communications director, functioned as acting interim president during the five months prior to Mr. Driskills arrival.

Mr. Ciruli will continue as chairman of the association until May, at which time it is expected that he will be succeeded by incoming chairman Jaime Chamberlain, director of sales for Chamberlain Distributing Inc. in Nogales. In the interim, Jaime and I will be interacting on a much more frequent basis with the staff, Mr. Ciruli said.

Mr. Ciruli expects that the board will have a lot of qualified candidates to look at. We just want to make sure that we pick the right one. He expects that it will take a few months until we find [the right] candidate, but things are in good shape with the association, so we are not in a rush, he added.

Although the board is already getting inquiries from interested candidates, we are not really soliciting resumes yet, he said. The board is going to take a look at some strategic initiatives and identify where we want to go in the next five years, and then try accordingly to line up the right person to get us there.

Asked what the board would be looking for in a candidate, Mr. Ciruli said, Certainly we are looking for someone that has a good knowledge of the fresh produce industry. In addition, a new president will be expected to grapple with many ongoing challenges that confront the industry. Among them, we see our challenges down here at the border getting tougher, with more government regulations, he said. That will involve more time spent in [Washington] DC.

Mr. Driskill previously worked for Meyer from about 1990 to 2003, initially in King City, CA, where the company is headquartered, and later in Nogales, serving much of that time as general manager. During the next four years prior being named FPAA president, he ran his own business, Driskill Agricultural Services, in Nogales, which was involved in agricultural financing as well as sales and distribution.

Mr. Driskill had been active in the association for many years prior to being hired as its president. He had served several years on the FPAA Board of directors, including four years as board vice chairman and several years as tomato committee chairman.

An accountant by training, Mr. Driskill worked with an investment firm prior to entering the produce industry.

Meyer LLC, which is owned by Robert L. (Bob) Meyer, is involved in growing, shipping and marketing of various tomato products as well as bell peppers, cucumbers squash and other assorted vegetables. The company was founded in 1955 by Mr. Meyer and his father, Leo Meyer.