An ex-Dole Fresh Vegetables president is being remembered in the fresh produce industry for his ability to find and develop talent.

Bill Heintz died May 27 in Indian Wells, Calif. He was 84.

Heintz was president of Dole Fresh Vegetables from 1984 to 1992. After serving briefly as senior vice president of industry affairs at Dole Food, the 37-year company veteran left in 1993 to do consulting work.

He had a reputation as a mentor to rising talent.

“Bill is probably most well-known as the western division vice president of what was then Castle & Cooke Foods, which later became Dole Foods,” said Woody Johnson, consultant to and retired general manager for Green Giant Fresh. In that role, Heintz worked with fresh produce executives who went on to become prominent in various companies.

“Bill was my major mentor in the business coming up,” said Johnson, who first worked with Heintz in 1973. “Castle & Cooke Foods was making the transition from Standard Fruit & Steamship Co. over to the Dole brand of bananas and pineapples.”

“He was a very personable guy and a great ambassador for the company,” said Leonard Batti, who worked with Heintz at Dole and later at Westlake Village, Calif.-based Mixtec Group, where Batti is senior partner.

“I would describe Bill as the consummate salesman — a salesman’s salesman,” Johnson said. “In the industry he was well-known.”

In 1994 Heintz was named managing director of senior produce practice at Mixtec Group.

In 1996, what was then United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association presented an award to Heintz recognizing his service to the industry. He served on the boards of United Fresh and Western Growers Association, said Steve DeGuire, sales manager at Holt, Calif.-based Victoria Island Farms.

Heintz left Mixtec Group in 1999 to start a consulting and executive recruiting firm with Ed Odron, former produce executive at Lucky Stores, San Leandro, Calif. The firm was called Heintz & Odron 2000.

After leaving Dole, he also served on the board of Oviedo, Fla.-based A. Duda & Sons Inc.

Heintz is survived by his wife, Margaret, and three daughters.