(Dec. 31, 10:40 a.m.) New Limeco LLC general manager Herbie Yamamura, 76, is passing the reins on to Eddie Caram, former director of operations for the Princeton, Fla.-based company.

Caram becomes general manager effective Jan. 5, the same day Yamamura’s retirement will be made official. Yamamura plans to keep coming into the office every day and will remain on the company’s payroll for at least the next year.

Yamamura was president, owner and founder of Limeco Inc. until the company filed bankruptcy near the turn of the century. Hurricane Andrew knocked out most of the tropical fruit company’s lime trees in 1992, and just as the 400 acres of replanted trees started to produce fruit, citrus canker claimed all but 20 acres, he said.

“Of course at that time I had to take a partner, but because of the bankruptcy, I was not able to stay an owner on the books,” Yamamura said.

Alcides Acosta, one of Florida’s largest tropical fruit growers, purchased the company, renamed it New Limeco LLC, and named Yamamura general manager. He founded Limeco in 1965.

Yamamura started his produce career sweeping floors at Lucerne Packing Co., which used to be based in Florida.

When Caram joined the company in 1999, he was in charge of developing the import market and new business.

“The transition is going to go well,” Caram said. “I’ve been handling all the purchases and sales teams, and Herbie’s been giving me the space to take the company to where it is. I think that’s why Herbie feels comfortable retiring.”

Caram came to Limeco from Brooks Tropicals, where he was director of sales and marketing. He started in the industry selling fruit to Miami customers for his father, who did independent business with Brooks Tropicals. When Caram’s father retired, Caram brought his customers to Brooks Tropicals.

Strong work ethic

Herbie may be confident in Caram’s ability to lead the company, but he certainly doesn’t feel comfortable living a life without work.

“I just can’t sit at home,” he said. “I took just a half a day Christmas Eve and I thought I was going to go crazy.”

Yamamura said he works 12 hour days at New Limeco on a regular basis.

“It’s going to be hard for me to slow down, but I’m going to do my best,” he said.

Yamamura said his 71 year-old wife, who still works full time as a nurse, is planning to retire in July.

“Hard work never killed anybody. That’s just something I’ve always believed in,” Yamamura said.
Caram said Yamamura has taught him the value of hard work, and he will carry that on in the company.

“Working with Herbie has been a great experience,” Caram said. “He’s 76 years old and he doesn’t stop. He’s like that Energizer rabbit. And that motivates you. You can’t say you’re tired in front of Herbie.”

The first year New Limeco was open it had sales of $10 million. Last year, sales were up to $22 million, Yamamura said.