Florida Classic Growers, based in Dundee, FL, has named Al Finch, the current vice president of sales and marketing, to replace President Bobby Bawcum, who will retire May 30 after 39 years in the Florida citrus industry.
Finch, a former president of the Southeast Produce Council, joined Florida Classic (then Dundee Citrus Growers Association) in 1999 after beginning his career with the Florida Department of Citrus in 1993.
Bawcum began his career in 1975 at Lake Region Packing and spent the last 21 years with Florida Classic. He has been president since 2004.
In his new role, Finch will oversee all aspects of the sales operation, including his previous sales and marketing duties.
It was Bawcum who first brought Finch to Florida Classic.
"In 1993, I started out in the Florida citrus industry as a retail merchandising representative for the Florida Department of Citrus in Atlanta, GA," Finch said."My job responsibilities included working with retail and foodservice accounts throughout four states in the Southeast promoting fresh Florida citrus products.
"A few years later, I had the opportunity to move to the Florida Department of Citrus headquarters in Lakeland, FL, as the retail promotions and industry relations manager for fresh fruit," Finch continued. "While working closely with the fresh fruit shippers and sales agencies, I met Bobby and decided to join the Dundee family in January of 1999."
During Bawcum's tenure, the Dundee sales team became Florida Classic Growers. Over the past five years, the company has also moved into the burgeoning Florida peach deal and is now the leading player in that category.
Still owned by Dundee Citrus Growers Association, Florida Classic markets more than 10,000 acres of citrus and over 500 acres of peaches.
In addition to his service with Southeast Produce Council, Finch is also a graduate of the United Fresh Leadership Program and active in various Florida citrus and produce organizations.
"I'm very honored to be chosen for this position by Dundee Citrus Growers Association," Finch said. "I look forward to continuing the progress and success of Bobby's regime and building on what he has brought to Florida Classic Growers. We will continue to build on his legacy and continue and grow in our role of serving as one of Florida's leading sales organizations of fresh Florida citrus and tree-ripened peaches."