Bland Farms restructures corporate lineup

03/29/2012 01:00:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

GLENNVILLE, Ga. — Changes at the headquarters of Bland Farms LLC keeps the grower-shipper moving forward as it enters its 30th season.

In July, Bruce Peterson, the former senior vice president and general merchandise manager of perishables for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., became Bland’s chief executive officer.

In November, Michael Hively, Bland’s former chief financial officer and chief operating officer, departed on amicable terms.

In late November, industry operations veteran David Beecher joined as director of operations.

Troy Bland, Bland’s quality control and procurement manager, said Beecher provides Bland operations and logistics expertise.

“He brings a wealth of experience,” Bland said.

“He will help us really streamline some of our processes and help bring together our different operations across the country. He’s helping with that team effort and everyone will have their own part to (play).”

Possessing an accounting background, Beecher worked 14 years in finance and operations with IFCO Systems North America Inc. in Tampa, Fla., serving as vice president of operations working in pallets and returnable plastic containers.

He started at Ridge Pallets, Bartow, Fla., which along with two other partners formed Palex to consolidate the pallet industry before IFCO acquired the firm.

Beecher was also vice president of operations and logistics for Minneapolis-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.-owned Rosemont Farms Corp., Boca Raton, Fla.

“Bland is a strong company and has been strong for a long time,” Beecher said.

“Bland grew very fast. It’s fun to digest their growth. My background is the block and tackling and putting processes and structures in place to get ready for that next growth opportunity.”

“It feels like a whole new world here,” said Sarah Seebran, who Bland promoted to marketing director in January.

“With Bruce Peterson and the other changes in the office, we’re looking forward to what that will produce in years to come,” she said.

“It should mean better service, quality and a better product.”

Greg Smith started as marketing communications manager in January.

Seebran said Smith’s addition should help move Bland closer to the roots of innovative marketing she said Delbert Bland and his wife Sandra Bland, who runs Vidalia Brands Inc., which markets dressings, relishes and other onion products, conducted.

“We have more people not necessarily located here but working from their homes,” Seebran said. “We are having to change how we function and how we grow.”

With a finance degree, Smith, who works from his home in Charlotte, N.C., started a small digital media and video production company in San Antonio while working at Valero Energy Corp. Smith ran the operation until he joined Bland in January.

“As time went by, I recognized that my talents and interests were creative by nature and very much communication-oriented, which prompted me to change directions,” Smith said.

“If I told you that I ever pictured myself working in the produce industry, I’d be lying, but here I am and I really enjoy it. The people are great and I could not be happier.”



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