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LOS ANGELES -- Giumarra Southeast has announced a new addition to its team, John Reese (JR) Franklin, who has been hired as grower and customer relations representative for the division.

Mr. Franklin is a native of Georgia and served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army from 2001 to 2005. He is a decorated veteran of both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Upon completion of service, he began his career in the produce industry, and has worked with Dulcinea Farms for the past three years. His positions with Dulcinea included field technician and cooler manager in its watermelon and cantaloupe operations from Florida to Indiana. He also worked in sales support for the company.

"We reached out to JR because of his background working with the melon category and growers from the Southeast, and his reputation within the grower community," Gary Sargent, division manager, said in a Jan. 25 press release.

In his new position with Giumarra Southeast, Mr. Franklin will help develop a fruit and vegetable program for the company. He is based in Valdosta, GA, where he resides with his wife and son.

"Giumarra Southeast is targeted to market fruits and vegetables from the eastern part of the U.S. Our season for seedless watermelon and cantaloupe begins in late May and continues throughout the summer. This enables our company to continue to serve growers and customers by extending our melon marketing beyond Giumarra's traditional season through Nogales," Mr. Sargent concluded in the release.