(UPDATED COVERAGE May 7) Bobby Bawcum, president of the Dundee, Fla.-based Florida Classic Growers, is planning to retire at the end of May, and the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, Al Finch, will immediately succeed him.
Florida Classic Growers is the marketing arm of the Dundee Citrus Growers Association.
After 38 years in Florida’s citrus industry, Bawcum plans to retire May 30. Finch, a former president of the East Ellijay, Ga.-based Southeast Produce Council, plans to start his new role June 1.
Bawcum entered the citrus industry in 1975 as a sales assistant and later assistant sales manager at Lake Region Packing in Tavares, Fla.
In 1991, he worked in sales for Emerald Packing in Orlando, Fla., until 1993 when he sold citrus from Dundee’s Groveland, Fla., packinghouse and was later promoted to sales manager before Dundee started Diversified Citrus Marketing in 2001. Diversified changed its name to Florida Classic Growers in 2010.
In 2004, Bawcum was promoted to president.
Bawcum, 61, said he planned to retire a couple of years ago but decided to stay on a little longer.
“I really enjoy the people I work with and the people we deal with,” he said. “My plans have always been to retire young while I’m still able to travel and enjoy my life.”
Bawcum said the industry has survived hurricanes and freezes and should prosper once a cure is found for citrus greening.
During the 1990s, Finch was a retail merchandising representative in Atlanta, marketing Florida citrus products in the Southeast for the Bartow-based Florida Department of Citrus, which was then based in Lakeland.
He returned to his hometown of Lakeland and worked closely with Bawcum and others in the fresh fruit industry when he was the department’s fresh retail promotions and industry relations manager.
Finch joined Dundee in 1999.
“I am very honored to be chosen for this position by Dundee Citrus Growers,” he said. “I am looking forward to continuing the success of what Bobby’s regime has brought to Florida Classic Growers and making it one of the leading sales organizations of fresh Florida citrus and tree-ripened peaches.”
Dundee is one of Florida’s largest citrus packinghouses and Florida Classic sells fruit from more than 10,000 acres of Florida oranges, grapefruit and tangerines and more than 500 acres of peaches.
A graduate of the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Foundation’s United Fresh Leadership Program, Finch has been active in the state’s citrus and other produce organizations.