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IMMOKALEE, FL -- Larry Lipman, chief executive officer of the Lipman Family of Companies, made his retirement official with a Jan. 5 announcement to his staff. In early December Mr. Lipman acknowledged his pending retirement plans but did not share exact details regarding the expected timeline for his departure or plans for a CEO search.

"I'm proud to have worked for one of the finest produce companies in the country," Mr. Lipman said in a Jan. 8 press release. "Over my years, I have seen our company transform from a regional tomato grower to a national leader in tomato and vegetable production and packing. While I had a role in this evolution and success of the Company, we truly would not be where we are today had I not had such a talented group of people working with me at LFC."

An industry veteran, Mr. Lipman has been working for the Lipman Family of Companies for 50 years, learning the business and moving up the ranks to the position of CEO, which he was named to in 1994. Under his leadership, Mr. Lipman helped grow the company to a position of national prominence that includes over 16,000 acres of production in 10 states and Mexico along with seven packing facilities and a company-owned greenhouse for research and development.

In addition to Mr. Lipman's announcement of his retirement, he named Toby Purse, current chief financial officer, as interim CEO, president and chief operating officer of Lipman Family Enterprises Inc. effective Jan. 8.

"My tenure at LFC has been and continues to be a first-class experience, including the time I spent working directly with Larry, Mr. Purse said in the release. His many years of produce experience have been invaluable to my professional growth. Now I look forward to the new challenge as interim CEO. Our company has solid growth plans that require continued attention as we work toward our long-term goals. I'm eager to keep the plan on track while we continue our search process for a new CEO."

Mr. Purse, with a background in finance, has been with the company for six years, initially joining the company as a controller and later assuming the position of CFO and chief accounting officer.

On the appointment of Mr. Purse, Mr. Lipman said, "While our search for a permanent CEO continues, I am confident that I am leaving LFC in good hands. I have no doubt Toby will do a terrific job of working with the LFC family and continuing our tradition of success."