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   Danny Mandel Passes The Torch To Craig Slate As SunFed's New President & CEO
by SunFed
Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 9:08AM EDT

RIO RICO, AZ - After a transformational 23 years of emphasizing the “fresh” in fresh produce, SunFed is evolving once again with the appointment of Craig Slate as the company’s President and CEO. Co-Founder Danny Mandel, the company’s most recent President and CEO, has retired; passing the torch to Slate effective August 31, 2017.

“I am proud to have Craig carry our company’s passion, commitment, and focus on excellence, into this next phase of growth for SunFed. Twenty-three years has been a long, but exciting time. We have constantly worked to improve the lives of our growers and customers,” Danny Mandel stated, reflecting on a few of the paradigm impacting changes that SunFed brought to the industry. “For our growers, SunFed brought transparency and understanding to the marketing process. Back in the day, growers would find out the type of year they had at the end of the season during liquidation, when they received a check or a bill. SunFed ‘turned on the lights’ for our family of growers. Today, SunFed growers go online and see every facet of their business in real time, as if they ran and owned the company.”

The company has been actively working towards, and achieving, growth in recent years. In Slate’s new role as President and CEO, his objectives will be to continue SunFed’s forward momentum and begin to accelerate the team’s expansion efforts. With a three-point plan in place, Slate is positioned to execute the company’s vision with the support and dedication of the executive team.

“We are assessing, and looking to expand our current operations–a path which we have already begun to pave,” said Slate. “This first piece of the puzzle is with our grower base. Our growth is achieved hand-in-hand with our best-in-class growers and ranches. SunFed’s goal is to further tap into these operations to help them grow, and create greater access to an evolving SunFed portfolio. The second point of the plan, involves new category ventures. The company is already evaluating other key items and areas to grow business-wise, that support what we already do, and further diversify our offerings, while driving additional revenues. Last but not least, is the marketing arm and customer-centric packaging, which has given us a great platform for differentiating ourselves within the fresh produce arena. We pride ourselves on our innovative, creative, and energetic themes and packaging, and how they speak to a range of demographics, markets, and consumer buying behaviors.”

From premium vegetable products under the company’s Perfect Produce® program, a new expansion into organics, and fresh packaging styles, to SunFed’s Almost Famous produce program which aims to use imperfect produce to drive sales and create a destination for produce shoppers – the company is already primed for growth.

Slate has a proven track record, with 26 years in the fresh produce industry. He kicked off his career at Chiquita Brands starting in FOB Sales before making his way to Director of Food Service, Product Innovation, and Alternative Channels. After spending 14 years with Chiquita, Slate made the move to IFCO Systems, where he spent nine years growing his knowledge of supply chain efficiencies and understating how the industry can utilize packaging to be a solution within that supply chain. Slate made the move to SunFed almost three years ago as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, before assuming his current role as company President and CEO.

“There is a tremendous amount of energy here at SunFed, with a team full of innovative and forward-thinking people,” Slate added. “Perfect Produce is not only a brand, it is a mantra and our mission. This message and standard is all encompassing for us as a company. When we say Perfect Produce, we are setting the bar and constantly raising it through our perfect ranches, perfect product, perfect packaging and materials, as well as attitude. This level of execution is something we look to maintain everyday. Perfect Produce is the endless pursuit of an idea that requires that you evolve everyday, and there is no finish line–our mission is never over.”

Slate’s promotion to President and CEO of SunFed also includes a promise to the people that have contributed to the company’s growth and vision for excellence.

“As we look to this new era at SunFed, Craig’s transition to President and CEO will benefit the company’s stakeholders, from growers and the trade, to retailers, and employees,” Matt Mandel, Vice President of Operations, stated. “We are always in the mindset of striving to make the business better, as well as enriching the quality of our relationships and the lives of our employees. Craig has been a tremendous addition to the team since he joined the company. As we continue to evolve, Craig will push us further and harder with even more focus. We are opening ourselves to a wealth of opportunities and an even more exciting road ahead.”

SunFed’s repertoire of milestones includes introducing smaller scale chillers, installing them in every packinghouse, getting product cold the “right away,” and eliminating the use of ice in the process. In 2001, SunFed partnered with StePac (now a division of Johnson Matthey) developing Xtend films for use with dry veg and melons that today are prerequisites for exceptional freshness. SunFed was also one of the first companies to eliminate waxed cascaded packaging from their entire product portfolio. In addition, SunFed stretched the limits of product consistency, applying Six Sigma principles to all its processes while also perfecting its Metabolic Reduction Model, aligning all postharvest processes to deliver previously unknown levels of freshness to the company’s valued customers.

About SunFed

Headquartered in the high desert of southern Arizona near Nogales, we are a fresh produce company with a passion for providing the highest quality fruits and vegetables, produced by the world’s finest growers. This passion and our commitment to developing FRESH INNOVATIONS have earned us a reputation for providing fruits and vegetables with extended freshness and consistent flavors, textures and colors. We are proud to be an industry leader in food safety, which is a culture ingrained throughout our company and backed up by technology, packaging and processes. We employ a team of food safety specialists who have set the highest standards in the fresh produce industry and then administer internal audits to ensure that we’re meeting or exceeding them.

Source: SunFed

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