( Courtesy Gerawan/Wawona )

California stone fruit companies Gerawan Farming Inc., Fresno, and Wawona Packing Co. LLC, Cutler, have merged.

Dan Gerawan, the largest individual shareholder in the merged company, is the CEO. Brent Smittcamp, executive chairman of Wawona, will remain a “significant shareholder and continue to be highly involved with the combined company,” according to a news release. Leaders from both companies will be involved in management of the merged entity.

In the near term, the companies will retain their names.

“Over the last several years, we have focused on accelerating Wawona’s growth by building on the inherent strengths of our business and management team,” Smittcamp said in the release. “Our acquisition last year of Burchell Nursery Inc. was one example, and now this historic merger with Gerawan takes it to yet another level."

Gerawan, a grower-shipper, markets fruit, including proprietary varieties, under the Prima brand. Stone fruit supplier Wawona has a focus on organic fruit. Both are third-generation family businesses, according to the release.

The merger builds on the legacies of the two companies, according to the release, creating an enhanced platform for growth and innovation.

Dan Gerawan said innovation has been a key to the company’s success, with an emphasis on investing in employees.

“These same values underpin Wawona’s success,” Gerawan said in the release. “This merger is an exciting next step to unlock the full potential of both companies." 

Wawona investor Paine Schwartz is partnering with the companies to “facilitate the transaction,” according to the release. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Paine Schwartz invests in “sustainable food chains,” and the merger represents a milestone that can be achieved by leveraging the company’s agribusiness expertise, according to the release.

“We look forward to this new chapter for two companies that have been incredibly successful on their own, and we believe they can achieve even greater success through this merger,” Kevin Schwartz, CEO of Paine Schwartz, said in the release.