(July 22, 12:16 p.m.) The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, has hired Dawn Gray as senior vice president of sales, marketing and categories.

Gray, general manager for Auckland, New Zealand-based Enza International, is scheduled to take over the position in April 2009, succeeding Oppenheimer’s senior vice president Bob Dunlop, who plans to retire at the end of 2008.

“This long transition is a bit unconventional, but it actually makes a great deal of sense,” said John Anderson, Oppenheimer’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a news release. “It enables Dawn to continue in a leadership capacity at Enza while a new general manager is found.”

Anderson said in the interim, Gray will spend time in Vancouver to work with Dunlop prior to his retirement to ensure a seamless transition.

Gray has been general manager at Enza since 2007. Prior to that she was executive vice president of sales and marketing for BC Hothouse Foods Inc., Surrey, British Columbia.

She also served as the president of Central California Orange Growers Cooperative, Visalia, and has been in sales and marketing positions at several other companies including Seattle-based Vanguard International, Los Angeles-based The Autenrieth Co., Los Alamitos, Calif.-based Frieda’s Inc. and Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers Inc.

Gray plans to continue working closely with Enza, which has worked with The Oppenheimer Group since 1956. Turners and Growers, Enza’s parent company, has a 15% stake in The Oppenheimer Group’s U.S. business.

Jeff Wesley, managing director of Turners and Growers said in the release that he sees the move as broadening Enza’s reach in North America.

“There are benefits to someone with an intimate knowledge of Enza and the New Zealand apple industry at the top of the Oppenheimer business,” he said in the release. “As Enza grows, I can see this strengthening the partnership between the two organizations and Enza’s presence in North America.”

Enza general manager accepts job with Oppenheimer