Calavo Growers Announces Board and Executive Appointments
SANTA PAULA, CA - Calavo Growers’ longtime leader, Lee E. Cole, has officially handed off the torch to new successors. Cole retired on January 31, 2020 as Calavo’s President and Chief Executive Officer—positions he had held since 1999. In his stead, James E. Gibson has assumed the CEO position. Cole also retired from his post as Chairman of the Board on February 27, 2020, which he had held for the last 28 years. J. Link Leavens will assume the Chairman position, while Lee will continue to lend his esteemed expertise to Calavo in the role of Director.
“I am honored to accept this additional role for an organization I’ve been a part of, and admired, for more than three decades,” said Leavens. “It’s been a distinct privilege serving alongside Lee Cole, and I am pleased that he will continue as member of the Board. On behalf of the Board, I extend thanks to Lee for his decades-long service as Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, and look forward to Calavo’s continuing success under the leadership of its dynamic new CEO, Jim Gibson.”
Leavens has been a member of Calavo’s Board of Directors since 1987. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of Leavens Ranches, which has been a member of Calavo since 1956 and operates 1,200 acres of avocado and lemon orchards in Southern California.
“I am delighted that Link has agreed to accept the position of Board Chairman,” said Chief Executive Officer James E. Gibson. “He has a deep understanding of our company and our industry that I know will be invaluable to me, our management team and the Board in the years ahead.”
Leavens is a graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in plant and soil science. He also holds a master’s in business administration from California Lutheran University. He has served as President of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County and of the Ventura County Resource Conservation District.
In addition to Leavens, Joel Silva, the former Division Controller for Calavo’s Fresh Foods division, will also be assuming a new role with the company: that of Corporate Controller and Chief Accounting Officer. He replaces James Snyder, who resigned effective March 6, 2020, to join a company in the financial services sector, according to a press release.
“Joel’s experience makes him an excellent fit for his new position,” continued Gibson.
Prior to joining Calavo Growers, Silva served as an Audit Partner at Arthur Andersen. Fully bilingual, he lived and worked in Mexico for five years. He holds a degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin.
In his new position, Silva will be supported by two current assistant controllers who have extensive experience at the company.
Calavo is also on the hunt for a new Chief Financial Officer, after the resignation of John Lindeman, effective March 11, 2020.
“John made a very significant contribution to Calavo, and we look forward to seeing his success at the new venture he has joined,” Gibson said, noting that Lindeman has accepted a position at a private-equity-funded hydroponics company.
Congratulations to Calavo and its leadership team on this next phase of its growth journey!