(March 10, UPDATED 2:23 p.m.) Tanimura & Antle Inc. president Ken Silveira, who joined the company 20 years ago as a college intern, is no longer with the Salinas, Calif., grower-shipper as of March 10.

A sluggish economy, slipping margins and declining sales resulted in the executive-level personnel change at Tanimura & Antle, and follows the February decision to end sales to processors.

Other casualties of the shakeup include Rick Bravo, vice president of sales and marketing, and Rick Russo, vice president of crop management, a company source who requested anonymity said March 10.

The source said John Killeen, who joined the company July as vice president of marketing and business development, and Steve Koran, director of western sales, remain at the company. The source also said Bob Antle, part owner, has stepped in as sales manager.

Russo and Koran joined Tanimura & Antle in October 2004, in the sales department under Bravo, who took over as vice president of sales that May, after more than 20 years with Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc., Monterey, Calif.

Chief executive officer Rick Antle confirmed March 10 that the company had no president, but he declined to discuss plans for Silveira’s successor.

“With the current economic outlook in the country and less than expected demand for our vegetable products over the past 90 days that are indicative that the current situation will not correct itself short of an event that interrupts supply, we’re right-sizing the company for the current economic situation facing the Salinas Valley,” Antle said March 7.

He said the change will affect the status of a number of employees, but would not elaborate if that might mean termination, retirement or reassignment.

“We have a policy that respects employees’ privacy,” he said. “We do not identify or confirm specific individuals, but we will confirm that there have been changes in the employment status of personnel at T&A that includes long-standing, senior employees of the company.”

Antle pointed out the recent discontinuation of growing leafy greens for processors as another sign that the company had already begun to change its business operation due to declining sales.

Antle said because of lackluster sales in 2007 and waning markets during the Yuma, Ariz., season, the company was also cutting back on its spring planting schedule by 5% to 10% in California.

“There are a lot of risks, and they’re (processors) not willing to pay a premium price,” Silveira said in February. “So we’d rather focus on the nonprocessed market.”

Silveira joined Tanimura and Antle in 1988, while attending California Polytechnic State University. His positions at the company included vice president of postharvest operations and senior vice president and chief operating officer. In September 2003, he was appointed president and chief operating officer, a new position designed to oversee that production, harvesting and manufacturing activities were aligned with the marketing and promotion activities at the company.

President, 2 vice presidents exit Tanimura & Antle
Executives Ken Silveira (above), Rick Bravo and Rick Russo are no longer with Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle Inc.