Enhancing the roster of services that the company provides would be a priority in growing the business, Watson said.
“We’re looking at value-added products,” he said. “We’re going to be interested in more dedicated transportation services, broadening distribution, and we’re open to all ideas that would be important to broadening the business.”
Tim Fleming said the company had been considering reaching outside the confines of the family for some time.
“We want to give everybody in Strube an opportunity to grow and be successful in every way possible, and we feel this is one of the best ways to accomplish it,” he said.
Are there any misgivings about handing the company reins to an outsider?
“Of course, there always are,” Tim Fleming said. “I think that the future leaders within Strube, whether they are family or not, can be energized.”
The Strube family isn’t ceding control of the company, Fleming added.
“The six owners are the ones who determine the board of directors, the size, the people, whatever,” he said. “But we need somebody who can come to us and say, ‘This is the direction we need to go or these are some areas we need to explore.’”
Chiquita did not return a telephone call for comment on successors to Watson.
Fred Strube, Jan Fleming’s grandfather, founded Strube Celery in 1913. He was succeeded as president by Robert Strube, Jan Fleming’s father, who passed the gavel as president to Fleming in 1994.