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SunFed Co-Founder Danny Mandel Retires: Craig Slate Named CEO

SunFed Co-Founder Danny Mandel Retires: Craig Slate Named CEO

RIO RICO, AZ - SunFed is closing out a successful era of leadership and welcoming a new CEO to the helm. Co-Founder Danny Mandel, the most recent President and CEO, has retired, naming Craig Slate as successor effective August 31, 2017.

As the produce veteran passes the torch after 23 years of emphasizing the “fresh” in fresh produce, Danny expressed excitement on the change ahead.

Danny Mandel, Co-Founder, SunFed

“I am proud to have Craig carry our company’s passion, commitment, and focus on excellence, into this next phase of growth for SunFed. Twenty-three years has been a long, but exciting time. We have constantly worked to improve the lives of our growers and customers,” the retiring executive said in a press release, reflecting on a few of the paradigm-impacting changes that SunFed brought to the industry. “For our growers, SunFed brought transparency and understanding to the marketing process. Back in the day, growers would find out the type of year they had at the end of the season during liquidation, when they received a check or a bill. SunFed ‘turned on the lights’ for our family of growers. Today, SunFed growers go online and see every facet of their business in real time, as if they ran and owned the company.”

In his new role, Slate’s objectives will be to continue the forward momentum SunFed has achieved in recent years, as well as beginning to accelerate the team’s expansion efforts.

Craig Slate, CEO, SunFed

“We are assessing, and looking to expand our current operations–a path which we have already begun to pave,” said Slate, who is positioned to execute the company’s vision with the support and dedication of the executive team.

SunFed produce

Already the leaders have a three-point plan in place.

“This first piece of the puzzle is with our grower base. Our growth is achieved hand-in-hand with our best-in-class growers and ranches. SunFed’s goal is to further tap into these operations to help them grow, and create greater access to an evolving SunFed portfolio. The second point of the plan, involves new category ventures. The company is already evaluating other key items and areas to grow business-wise, that support what we already do, and further diversify our offerings, while driving additional revenues. Last but not least, is the marketing arm and customer-centric packaging, which has given us a great platform for differentiating ourselves within the fresh produce arena. We pride ourselves on our innovative, creative, and energetic themes and packaging, and how they speak to a range of demographics, markets, and consumer buying behaviors,” Slate said.

With 26 years of experience in the industry, Slate has a proven track record working with fresh produce. He kicked off his career at Chiquita Brands starting in FOB Sales before making his way to Director of Food Service, Product Innovation, and Alternative Channels. After spending 14 years with Chiquita, Slate made the move to IFCO Systems, where he spent nine years growing his knowledge of supply chain efficiencies and understating how the industry can utilize packaging to be a solution within that supply chain. Slate made the move to SunFed almost three years ago as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, before assuming his current role as company President and CEO.

SunFed Eggplants

“There is a tremendous amount of energy here at SunFed, with a team full of innovative and forward-thinking people,” Slate added. “Perfect Produce is not only a brand, it is a mantra and our mission. This message and standard is all encompassing for us as a company. When we say 'Perfect Produce,' we are setting the bar and constantly raising it through our perfect ranches, perfect product, perfect packaging and materials, as well as attitude. This level of execution is something we look to maintain everyday. Perfect Produce is the endless pursuit of an idea that requires that you evolve every day, and there is no finish line–our mission is never over.”

Slate’s promotion to President and CEO of SunFed also includes a promise to the people that have contributed to the company’s growth and vision for excellence.

Matt Mandel, Vice President of Operations, SunFed

“As we look to this new era at SunFed, Craig’s transition to President and CEO will benefit the company’s stakeholders, from growers and the trade, to retailers and employees,” Matt Mandel, Vice President of Operations, stated. “We are always in the mindset of striving to make the business better, as well as enriching the quality of our relationships and the lives of our employees. Craig has been a tremendous addition to the team since he joined the company. As we continue to evolve, Craig will push us further and harder with even more focus. We are opening ourselves to a wealth of opportunities and an even more exciting road ahead.”

From premium vegetable products under the company’s Perfect Produce® program, a new expansion into organics, and fresh packaging styles, to SunFed’s Almost Famous produce program–which aims to use imperfect produce to drive sales and create a destination for produce shoppers–the company is already primed for growth.

Congratulation to Danny and Craig from all of us at AndNowUKnow on this big step for each you!


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