Parker succeeds Ted Campbell, who joined the Dover, Fla.-based group in 2008. In February, Campbell stated his plans to retire.
For the past 20 years, Parker, a Plant City, Fla., native, worked as a crop consultant for Chemical Dynamics Inc., a Plant City fertilizer and micronutrient company.
After graduating from Florida Southern College in Lakeland in 1986 with a degree in business marketing management and citrus, Parker worked as a territory representative for Mobay Chemical Corp., a Bayer CropScience predecessor, and was in fertilizer and chemical sales for citrus and vegetables for Tampa, Fla.-based agribusiness firm Lykes Bros. Inc.
Parker grew up in the strawberry industry and in college, earned money picking strawberries.
Association president Shad Simmons, farm manger of operations for EW Simmons Farm in Plant City, said Parker was the only candidate.
“He has a great knowledge of the industry and is a very driven individual,” Simmons said. “This is the direction the association wants, to make Florida strawberries stand out compared to anything else in the marketplace. He has a good background with everyone here and knows the industry and what growers need to do to move the industry forward.”
Parker listed immigration reform, regulations and international competition as the industry’s biggest issues.
“We as an industry have to produce a Florida strawberry that has more desirable characteristics than our competition,” he said. “This will allow us to create and maintain satisfied customers at a profitable level. There are a tremendous amount of challenges but this group of growers is very resilient and it will take some cool heads to work through these challenges.”
Campbell, who plans to formally retire after the Aug. 5-6 Agritech grower meetings, worked more than 30 years in produce retail and wholesaling including chairman of the Produce Marketing Association and was at Supervalu Inc., as well as The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc., and Associated Wholesale Grocers.
Parker started his position July 1.