A dozen years after helping found Crunch Pak, chief executive officer John Graden is beginning to think about retirement and has begun the search for his replacement.

Known as a pioneer in the sliced apple business, Crunch Pak, Cashmere, Wash., began in 2000 when Graden joined with Tony Freytag, now the company’s national marketing director, and the late Craig Carsonto create a company to slice and market apples.

The Crunch Pak board of directors asked Graden to begin the search process to “find the next generation of executive leadership in anticipation of his eventual retirement,” company officials said in a news release issued Dec. 26.

Crunch Pak’s CEO searches for his successorGraden will continue in his current position until a new CEO is hired, the release said. Krista Jones, a company spokeswoman, said Dec. 27 that no timeline has been announced in relation to the CEO search.

After a new CEO is hired, Graden will remain a member of the Crunch Pak board and will be director of special projects, in addition to mentoring the new executive, the news release said.

Graden said in the news release the winning candidate will have a passion for the business and a commitment to continue Crunch Pak’s role as a leading shipper of sliced apples to markets around the world.

The company offers a family of brands including Disney-themed snack packs for children. Crunch Pak also offers organics, which make up about a third of the company’s sales. Annually Crunch Pak creates more than 1 billion apple slices at its plants in Cashmere, Wash., and Pennsylvania, according to its website.