(UPDATED COVERAGE, Aug. 26) In the wake of its purchase by Taylor Farm Fresh Foods, River Ranch’s new president is Bruce Knobeloch.
Knobeloch, River Ranch’s former chief operating officer, accepted the position Aug. 24. As president of the Salinas, Calif.-based salad and vegetable processor and shipper, he reports to Bruce Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of both companies.
Taylor Farms acquired the company Aug. 13. River Ranch had been searching for a buyer for a few months.
Knobeloch said he's excited about his new role and about the opportunities Taylor Farms ownership brings to the table.
"Taylor Fresh Foods is highly regarded in the marketplace with a great team led by Bruce Taylor," Knobeloch said. "As the largest salad and fresh-cut vegetable company in the industry, Taylor will provide depth of resources allowing River Ranch to continue to provide and develop great products and services that will only benefit our customers."
Knobeloch has earned the trust of the River Ranch team and the customer community over many years with his integrity and professionalism, Taylor said in an e-mail announcement of Knobeloch's position to River Ranch customers and affiliates.
Knobeloch had been chief operating officer since rejoining River Ranch in February. He was laid off from his former position as vice president of marketing in January 2009, when River Ranch cut 2% of its workforce during the height of the recession.
John Bowman, a board member from one of the five banks that owned River Ranch prior to the Taylor buyout, served as interim president until the deal’s closure. He took over when Bob Jenkins resigned as president and chief executive officer in November 2008.
Knobeloch was vice president of marketing for seven years before being laid off in 2009. During his year away from the company he looked into consulting opportunities, and eventually formed Knobeloch Jenkins Associates LLC with Jenkins.
Before joining River Ranch, Knobeloch spent two years with Apio Inc., Guadalupe, Calif., first as vice president of corporate development and then, in 2001, as chief operating officer. He was coming off seven months as vice president of retail sales for Buyproduce.com.
Before trying the e-commerce produce business, Knobeloch spent 26 years at St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc., ending his time there in 2000 as director of produce. In 1999, he was named Retailer of the Year by Produce Merchandising (now known as Produce Retailer) magazine and Produce Marketer of the Year by The Packer.
Knobeloch had started at Schnuck when he was 16 years old as a part-time bagger.
Taylor said Aug. 17 that the company plans to work through changes in personnel and operations in the next few weeks, but did not have any updates as of Aug. 26. He said there will be some changes, and that Taylor Farms will look for areas on the manufacturing side where simplifications can be made, but there will still be two separate operations and separate plants.