(Updated coverage Feb. 18) For just the second time in almost half a century, there’s been a changing of the guard at the Michigan Celery Promotion Cooperative.
Gary Wruble replaced Duane Frens as general manager of the Hudsonville-based cooperative on Jan. 1. Frens is now retired, Wruble said.
Frens had held the job since 1985. Frens replaced Byron Carpenter, who was named general manager in 1964.
Wruble joined the coop in July 2009 to learn the general manager duties from Frens before taking over the job, Wruble said.
Wruble said that while the coop is looking at some new initiatives on the processing side, he expected the percentage of product packed for the fresh market at the coop to remain about the same.
The cooperative markets two-thirds of all fresh-market Michigan-grown celery.
“Our major goal is to create value for the membership and increase profitability,” Wruble said.
Wruble, a Michigan native, said he has been in agriculture his entire life, though this is his first job in the fresh produce industry.
Most recently, Wruble was the founder and chief executive officer of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Soy Ultima LLC, a food and technology company that developed foods containing whole soy.
Before that, Wruble served as president of his family’s grain elevator company, Harbor Beach, Mich.-based Wruble Elevator Inc., and as a purchasing agent for a feed company.
The grower-owned Michigan Celery Promotion Cooperative was founded in 1951 to improve quality and stabilize prices.