After 12 years running Calavo, Vangelos tried the only thing during his career in which he was proved not very good — retirement.
“Some people have called me a glutton for punishment,” he said. “The day I retired from Calavo, I told (his wife) Mary, ‘The last thing I want is to bump into you every day, and I’m sure you feel the same way about me.’
“So, I opened a little office, just to get me out of the house and give me something to do. And, that evolved into what I’m doing today.”
While “retired,” he continued serving on the boards of directors of several companies and helped found a consulting firm. He also directed the growth and development of a produce distribution center in Russia.
In 2000, Vangelos officially returned to work full-time when he was named chairman of the board and chief executive officer of dried fruit and nut companies Premier Valley Foods and Treehouse Farms and within a year, moved those companies from processing and packing to raw product procurement, sales and marketing.
He became chairman of the board at BC Hot House Foods, Vancouver, British Columbia, three years later and hired a president who, again, turned the cooperative into a for-profit sales and marketing company.
Eventually, Vangelos found his way to Sun World, where in his short time he’s restructured the leadership, moved the headquarters (he did the same with Premier Valley Foods and Treehouse Farms), redesigned the company logo and re-energized the company’s marketing focus.
He also currently serves as chairman of the grower-shipper board at United Fresh.
Along his entire journey, he always made time for family. He and Mary, his wife of 54 years, are parents of six children, five sons and a daughter. Mary and his son Jim Vangelos attended the award presentation.
“I’m an unbelievably blessed person,” Vangelos said. “I have a wife who’s supported me, and six great kids who have supported me the entire way.
“I’m honored by this award bestowed upon me and truly appreciate it.”