( Calavo Growers )

Michael Browne, Calavo Growers’ vice president of fresh operations, plans to retire in mid-December.

Effective Dec. 15, Browne’s responsibilities at Calavo will move to Gary Gunther, who is Calavo’s director of fresh operations. Gunther has reported to Browne for the last 14 years, according to Calavo. Before coming to the company in 2005, Gunther was the director of operations for Mission Produce.

Before joining Calavo Growers, Browne was president and CEO of Fresh Directions International. He co-founded the avocado marketing company in 1997. Before that, he was vice president of Green Stripe Inc.’s North American export marketing division. He was also president and CEO of Index Fresh Inc., an avocado cooperative.

In other news, the company said Oct. 1 that its board of directors declared a $1.10 per share annual cash dividend on its common stock an increase of $0.10 compared with 2018. The board set Dec. 6 as the payment date to all shareholders of record as of Nov. 15, according to Calavo.

The company said the annual dividend is the 18th consecutive annual payout by Calavo since 2002, when its shares became publicly traded on the NASDAQ Market. Since 2002, the dividend has increased 450%, according to the company.

“The decision to increase our annual dividend by 10% reflects our strong operating performance this fiscal year and our boards’ sustained confidence in the long-term growth prospects for our company,” Lee Cole, chairman, president and CEO of Calavo, said in a news release. ”While we continue to reinvest in our business, we remain focused on delivering strong returns for our shareowners and rewarding them with these continued annual cash dividend increases.”

Before joining Calavo Growers, Browne was president and CEO of Fresh Directions International. He co-founded the avocado marketing company in 1997. Before that, he was vice president of Green Stripe Inc.’s North American export marketing division. He was also president and CEO of Index Fresh Inc., an avocado cooperative.

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