(Aug. 8, 3:20 p.m.) Dennis Gertmenian, 62, chief executive officer and founder of Ready Pac Foods Inc., Irwindale, Calif., is retiring after more than 40 years in the produce industry.

Gertmenian came out of his first go-around with retirement July 2006, to take the helm again after then-chief executive officer Larry Kern retired.

Gertmenian will continue as a board member, according to an Aug. 8 news release.

“It is always nice to go out on top, and today Ready Pac has never been in better shape to serve our customers with a tremendous lineup of innovative products and services,” he said in the release. “We have a great management team in place led by Michael Solomon, our president.”

He said the company is profitable and is coming off a record year.

“We’re at the forefront of the industry again and the future looks bright for Ready Pac,” he said. “I have our team to thank for that success, particularly for giving me the chance to finally spend more time with my family and to devote more quality time to the many charitable organizations that are part of my life’s passion.”

Gertmenian is renowned for having “created an industry in a bathtub,” when he was working in his father’s produce warehouse, according to the release.

While the elder Gertmenian was out of town, a large order came in for a salad mix rather than whole produce. Not wanting to risk losing the sale, the Dennis Gertmenian made his first salad product in a new bathtub, bought just for the occasion. This eventually led to the founding of Ready Pac in 1969.

Solomon will assume the role of chief executive officer in addition to his duties as president, according to the release.

“The vision, passion and energy he has possessed for 40 years will leave anyone speechless,” Solomon said. “He’s a legend. He created an industry, and it started by knowing one of the most important virtues in our business — know your customers, their consumers and meet the needs of both.”

Ready Pac CEO Gertmenian steps down